By Paul McAleer
Revival is an exhausting experience. Each insightful message is overshadowed by lackluster and stark production that overstays its welcome. Eminem hasn’t lost his lyrical ability, but not even the best rappers have the skill to make every bar count on 17 tracks that average five minutes long each. Every clever line is challenged by verbal regurgitation that knows no limits: “That butt won’t ever give up / That’s why you stick out no matter what,” Eminem raps on “Remind Me,” later adding, “Your booty is heavy duty like diarrhea.” On “Untouchable,” two songs before the fanny-focused “Remind Me,” Eminem raps about racism and white guilt in America over a circus-like and delirious guitar backdrop before the beat switches. The message is sound, but the confusing choice on the production side and the ridiculousness of later tracks hurts the chances of Revival being taken seriously.
Guitar-backed rap doesn’t usually fit the desired tone of Revival, but “Castle” is an example of Eminem’s songwriting rising to the challenge of making the album interesting. While Revival often relies on unoriginal, but important ideas, “Castle” is a looking-glass into Marshall Mathers, the human as opposed to the rapper. The track takes listeners through his relationship with his daughter and the anxiety that came with it, opening with the months leading up to when she was born until he struggled with his drug addictions.
The personable moments continue with “Arose,” leaving listeners craving more vulnerability throughout other tracks on the album. Ultimately, Revival fails at being truly impactful and lacks replayability. The components of success are unevenly littered across the project, but Eminem didn’t bother to rearrange them or throw the useless ones away in the process.