While falling short of the colossal hype leading up to its release, Travis Scott’s Astroworld is a solid project that rarely fails to excite.
The album’s title, which comes from a now-demolished Houston amusement park, is reflected sonically through its many surprises and energetic vibe. The pacing is exceptional, especially for a trap album, and the album remains consistently engaging with constant beat switchups and non-stop features.
Scott manages to take the diverse talents of artists like Juice WRLD, James Blake and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, and incorporate them into songs that compliment his own spacey auto-tuned rapping. The many guests bring a sense of community and fun to the album, but Travis Scott is undeniably the star of the show. Scott’s singing always sounds beautiful, but the sheer catchiness of the hooks, like on “Butterfly Effect,” add an extra reason to come back. His lyrics are generally good, especially when they take on more interesting topics like “Stop Trying To Be God” or “R.I.P. Screw,” a touching tribute to the late DJ Screw.
Scott remains adept at making trap clichés interesting with descriptive lyrics, internal rhymes and impressive flows, but his guests can’t always keep up. Some of the best songs are borderline ruined by bad verses, such as Nav’s strangely quiet verse on “Yosemite,” and what might be one of Drake’s worst features ever on “Sicko Mode.” Despite these stains, the beats are hard enough to keep anything from sounding too boring.
The production is quite experimental at some points, with wacky piano and a strange absence of kick drum on “5% Tint,” and the dreamy, psychedelic “Skeletons,” which is constructed from The Weeknd’s gorgeous vocal samples. While the more straightforward beats are not as innovative, they’re incredibly detailed, and feel quite literally “spacey” with soft, reverb-laden synthesizers and hypnotic bass and drums.
Astroworld may not be all that fans were expecting, but Travis Scott showed up with a project that proves the trap genre can lend itself to the album format when it’s as versatile, danceable and hard hitting as this one.