Anderson .Paak – Venice (Album Review)

Whilst he’s currently a relatively unknown quantity in the music industry, Anderson Paak was very recently listed in Rolling Stone’s November edition of ‘Ten New Artists You Need to Know’, and for good reason. His debut album, Venice, was launched at the tail-end of October, and it’s one of the most genre-merging, cosmopolitan collection of songs you’ll ever have the pleasure of hearing.

From start to finish Venice is smooth listening. Despite the blend of genres that varies from song to song, Paak’s unmistakable, husky vocals iron out any potential creases. This means that each track is just as easy to listen to as the next. It has a feel of Frank Ocean’s Channel ORANGE, but a little edgier and a little rougher round the edges. This may come as a result of the artist’s hard work and toil that began by busking as a session musician in LA and the experience he has picked up along the way.

The album very much epitomises the contemporary, post-internet transformation of R&B music – built on a sturdy foundation of electronic beats, the tracks are experimental in the context of the genre. Diversity is one of the main strengths of Venice and it certainly capitalises on this to provide a unique sound. It’s fresher than a pie cooling off on a windowsill, with a mixture of soul, R&B, hip-hop, pop, rock, and house beats providing a smorgasbord of sounds to indulge in.

Tracks like ‘Milk n’ Honey’ exhibit Anderson Paak’s more traditional hip-hop roots. The simplistic beats very much draw focus on the narrative of the lyrics, and the slick rhythm of the rhymes. ‘Miss Right’ on the other hand, gives Paak a chance to demonstrate his vocal range, with a more rock-like ballad-esque hook that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand. The powerful chords paired with his smooth voice combine wonderfully to create a chorus that you can’t help but look forward to whilst you listen to the verses.

I have to applaud this debut effort from Paak. The production value is excellent, and the brave attempt to release a collection of songs with a blend of genres has certainly paid off. It’s a joy to listen to from start to finish, with the derivation of the title and theme of the album (Venice, California) providing an interesting back-bone. I feel like this will be the start of big things to come from Anderson Paak, who is starting to pick up wider notice after picking up a supporting slot on Watsky’s All You Can Do tour. Hopefully his next album can match, and possibly even one-up Venice, but only time will tell.


Luke Ludbrook, Music critic at Seroword

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