Album Review: "Revival", Eminem
Look, it’s not like I expected this album to be enjoyable or anything. Really, the bare minimum that I’d hoped for was that it’d be listenable. I wanted to be able to listen to it without my eye twitching every two seconds in reaction to how intolerable it was. When Walk on Water came out, it was fine. It was sort of cheesy and didn’t have the strongest verses or production in the world, but at least it wasn’t draining to listen to. And then Untouchable happened. Easily one of the worst songs of the year; I think a lot of us that had even slight faith in this album at that point really had an oh fuck moment. I was so riled up after hearing it one time that I went straight to google docs to write down everything that was wrong with it; I wanted to prove that it was basically everything that could possibly go wrong in the execution of a song condensed into one track. It’s insane. It’s revolutionary. It’s almost like you could just show it to an up and coming rapper and tell them here- don’t do anything this guy is doing. And so the only thing we could do at that point was hope against all odds that this was just a weird, preachy, awkward track that didn’t resemble any of the others on the album; no. It wasn’t. The entire album is filled with the brothers and sisters of Untouchable.
So naturally, tackling it was a chore. I’m not really sure why I chose to make my life a living hell by subjecting myself to it at a time when I should be visiting with family and enjoying the holidays. But seriously, I couldn’t get through more than like four songs at a time. Even that felt like a whole rollercoaster of anger, nausea, utter sadness, etc at how fucking terrible they were. And that much felt like I should be done with at least half to three quarters of the album but NO, IT’S A FUCKING 19 TRACK LONG ALBUM, AND THAT’S BARELY EVEN A DENT. And I don’t know how Eminem makes a 5-minute song feel like 20 minutes, but that’s at least one thing he pulls off here. So many bad things are going on in every single song that it’s overwhelming to try to cover it all in a review. It’s like my head is exploding with a million things to touch on right now, but I’m going to try to condense it to make this a faster read so we can all move on with our lives.
Revival’s not even bad in a way that’s at least sort of entertaining or seen as a joke. It’s clearly trying to be a much bigger deal than it is, making it that much more painful to subject yourself to. It gives me an extra terrible feeling in my stomach knowing that Eminem was genuinely confident enough in this project to release it, especially when looking at the lyrics. He’ll try to address a political topic here or there, and come across as so preachy and surface-level that it’s hard to listen to; honestly, that’s one of a number of good ideas that Eminem totally butchers with horrible execution. I like the fact he wanted to apologize to Kim for mistreating her in the past in Bad Husband, or talk about the effect of an abusive relationship on someone in Tragic Endings, or how he apologizes to his daughter in Castle for not being there for her enough, and how she’ll be affected growing up from his behavior in the past or from lyrics in songs like 97 Bonnie and Clyde (which might be the only song that actually goes over decently well.) So just when you think there’s no way someone with good intentions and ideas can make a project that’s that bad, he leaves smoke on the fucking table with verses that are not only cringy, gross, vivid, in your face, but somehow boring at the same time and just utterly terribly written, the production is so poorly mixed; overproduced in parts, mainly really basic and surface-level guitar riffs and piano, occasional elements thrown in that are totally out of place, the features either make the songs worse or dominate the entire tracks and it doesn’t even feel like an Eminem song, and if you’re paying attention, I really don’t see how you could enjoy this album. Trying to listen to it literally feels like someone’s punching me in the face repeatedly. Taking me out. It’s not bad in a way you can ignore. Eminem is yelling. With those terrible vocals. And those laughably awful lyrics. Please leave me alone.
But I think the most prominent, unignorable thing about this album is the amount of cringy individual lines it’s literally laced with. No, not the terribly mixed production, not Eminem’s rapping where in a few songs he sounds so awkward it’s like he can’t figure out what flow to use so he just switches it up a bunch, not the god awful features; the lyrics. The type of verses you’d bump an album’s score down a point or so just hearing once on one song. I almost feel bad about times I’ve been so picky with other albums’ lyrics now. So what I’m going to do here is list off the worst of the cringy lines in a few songs for you to read, and you can decide for yourself if the project is still worth listening to. Bear in mind where the words aren’t unbelievably ridiculous, they’re so surface level and poorly written they still make you want to die a vast majority of the time.
"Since I'm manure, she's a sewer / And this time this piece of shit's runnin' through her"
"Grab you by the (meow!), hope it's not a problem, in fact / About the only thing I agree on with Donald is that / So when I put this palm on your cat / Don't snap, it's supposed to get grabbed / Why do you think they call it a snatch?"
"Ass that she wants a computer lodged in her vagina / Said my dick is an apple, she said put it inside her"
"With an ass to match, girl, your / Body is lit, you're striking, I'm a gas, girl, you're / Just gonna have to put them other chumps on the back burner / You got buns, I got Asperger's / Just let me rest my head between that set of D's / While I shred MC's like cheddar cheese / That's just the thoroughbred in me, ain't a better breed / My dog thinks so too- look at my pedigree"
"So let's get turnt like a shish kabab / Twist it, ma, like an air conditioning knob"
"When we tied the knot, when we broke the knot / Every line we crossed we were supposed to not / Every time we fought, the insults, they got... thrown too far / Words that we said that we didn't mean / The words that we meant that we didn't say / The ones that we thought we shoulda said / Letters written that we coulda read / Which maybe woulda lead to some good instead"
"My competition can't see me- 'cause I don't own a mirror / But Marshall, you are terrific, so smart and gifted / I'm so narcissistic, when I fart I sniff it / Do a fake dab to smell my armpits, whiff it"
I don’t know if I just hate this project an extra amount because I was forced to pay so much attention to everything that’s going on, more so than projects I’ve given a 1.5/10 or 2/10 or so, but I’m giving it a 1/10. Not a 0.5, because yes, unfortunately I’ve heard worse music in my life. At the end of the day it’s still sort of listenable...assuming you don’t pay attention to the lyrics or care if the production is so poorly mixed. But I can’t think of a single project I listened to this year that I enjoyed less than this, and this really is pretty damn close to one of the worst albums i’ve ever subjected myself to. Here's to never touching it again.