thu 18/07/2024

Album: slowthai - UGLY | reviews, news & interviews

Album: slowthai - UGLY

Album: slowthai - UGLY

Northampton's finest carves out his own lane on new album

Tattoos fade after an album cycle, right?

The years since slowthai’s Mercury Prize nominated debut have been patchy. There was the public reckoning after his oafish behaviour at the NME awards, but then he scored his first number one album a year later. He’s become a father but also struggled with his mental health

UGLY is slowthai's third album and he continues to grapple with who he is and his hedonistic impulses. What’s noticeable with UGLY is how he now firmly draws more from rock than grime. Despite the new sound, slowthai is still best when he is rapping

Slowthai has flirted with rock music since “Doorman” off his debut. This proves to be more than an infatuation as UGLY features songs that evoke the Pixies (“Falling”) and the Stooges (“Wotz Funny”), as well as moments like “Feel Good” and “Sooner” which have an indie jangle that NME would have lapped up in the early Noughties. The rotating group of musicians around him sound good, but what always stands out are his vocal performances: he injects every song with urgency, gasping, wailing and screaming his way through the tracklist. 

Slowthai undoubtedly has carved out his own lane with UGLY. But I can’t help but miss slowthai, the bar-for-bar rapper, though. The fact is that the best moments here are when he’s rapping, like on the furious opener “Yum” which features a pulsating bass similar to Kanye’s “I Am A God”, but makes that song sound like a lullaby. His storytelling on “Never Again” is effortless and matches anything off his debut. The moment he figures out that a local girl he knows has been murdered is heart-wrenching in its detail: “I seen the pretty picture, the one she cut me out, that was still up on her insta/ winter-wonderland eating walnuts in December.”

UGLY is slowthai pushing his creative boundaries and getting out of his comfort zone. Luckily it is enjoyable. In a press note he’s said that “when I come back to rap I’ll be able to blend it all and do something bigger and better”, a statement which bodes well for the future.


His storytelling on “Never Again” is effortless and matches anything off his debut


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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