Eventually, I knew I had to get around to reviewing this. I've had the album for months, but Eminem is a tough listen for me. I really didn't like his last album, Relapse, which I found to be unncessarily violent and misogynistic without much pop appeal. Thankfully, Recovery has a lot of pop appeal, although it's an interesting twist of how hip-hop can appropriate pop into something dark and sinister. Sure Recovery features Pink and Rihanna and draws samples from some highly recognizable sources, but nothing about Eminem is ever light or breezy. The kind of wicked goofiness that he showed on his earlier work, such as "Without Me" or "The Real Slim Shady" is missing here.
Instead, the album is dominated by plodding, dark, guitar-driven songs that hybridize rap and pop, often with a great sample. He skirts the dance pop stylings of Rihanna in favor of her darker side on "Love the Way You Lie," the domestic abuse drama that became one of the year's biggest hits. Intriguing "Space Bound" interpolates R.E.M.'s dark burner, "Drive," and "25 to Life," which features vocalist Liz Rodrigues, has a welcome laid back feel touched with a bit of sadness. He even manages to turn a dance pop sample--Haddaway's "What Is Love"--into something sinister on "No Love," with Lil Wayne in tow for some extra cred. It's a more clever sampling than using Black Sabath's "Changes" on "Going Through Changes," which doesn't take much creativity.
"Not Afraid" shoots for an epic sound and scores, another album highlight. P!nk, shows up on "Won't Back Down," a soulful, upbeat jam--one of the few here. Prominent electric guitar lends a rock air to "Talkin' 2 Myself."
I listen to this album, and some of the songs are good, but it just doesn't grab me. I know it will probably win the Album of the Year Grammy Award, which it probably deserves, but I'm just not a big fan of his. I'm grateful that this album doesn't display the kind of violent misogyny I found so repellent on his last album, Relapse, but I wish he would lighten up a little more.
Best: Love the Way You Lie, Not Afraid, No Love, Space Bound, Won't Back Down