Thundercat – It Is What It Is

Thundercat returns in a laid-back mood on fourth album It Is What It Is, joined by an extensive cast of collaborators

Album Review by Adam Turner-Heffer | 30 Mar 2020
  • Thundercat – It Is What It Is
Album title: It Is What It Is
Artist: Thundercat
Label: Brainfeeder
Release date: 3 Apr

After his world-conquering turn on 2017's epic jazz/funk odyssey Drunk, Stephen Bruner returns in a more laid-back mood on It Is What It Is, his fourth full-length as Thundercat. In fairness, Bruner has earned the right to produce a breezier, yet still forward-thinking, record after his phenomenal work on his last album and Kendrick Lamar's grand opus To Pimp a Butterfly. Thundercat's latest sees the bass guitar virtuoso return to his earlier work's looseness but through the other side of the looking glass of Drunk's intense 'night-out-gone-wrong' concept.

This isn't to say Bruner is resting on his laurels. Lead singles Black Qualls and Dragonball Durag are yet more examples of how Thundercat continues to produce catchy hit singles with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humour. Meanwhile, I Love Louis Cole (featuring KNOWER's mind-boggling drummer Louis Cole) sees Bruner hark back to his days in Suicidal Tendencies, utilising Cole's breakneck speed to cross over poppy jazz with thrash-punk beats. Elsewhere, Interstellar Love and the closing title track explores Bruner's love for deeply spacial atmospheric jazz.

Though Thundercat has always been Bruner's, it has increasingly become a more collaborative project. King of the Hill, originally released in 2018, for instance, sees Bruner team up perfectly with BADBADNOTGOOD as another example of how healthy the modern jazz and soul scene currently is. As usual Flying Lotus produces, with his fingerprints particularly keenly felt on tracks such as Unrequited Love, to assist Bruner with yet another fantastic release.

Listen to: Black Qualls, Dragonball Durag, King of the Hill