Wasteland by Brent Faiyaz | Album Review
Reviewing the long awaited album from Brent Faiyaz
This is the first full length album for Brent Faiyaz since Fuck The World — a short 29 minute listen that plays more as an EP than an album. For that reason, I consider Wasteland the first album since his debut album Sonder Son, released in 2017. That being said, this project feels long overdue if you were unsatisfied with the length of previous projects. A toxic summer is on the horizon.
The first thing I notice is the set of songs previously released that I wouldn’t think would fall under the lead single category. “GRAVITY” came out over a year and half ago, so it’s a shock seeing it included. Additionally, “DEAD MAN WALKING”, released almost two years ago and “WASTING TIME”, released about a year ago all make the album. Could this be the result of the untimeliness of a pandemic? Either way, the true lead single, the one that signaled the album roll out, “PRICE OF FAME”, feels more in tune with the product of Wasteland.
While the previous singles are great in their own right, they feel like a different approach than the vibe of the rest of the album. Stylistically, the difference is clear: the product of Wasteland is brooding, lowkey, filled with pitched down voices, and toxicity. The upbeat nature, inclusion of mainstream features, and trap elements feels like the older singles were byproducts of another time. Even with this stylistic difference, it can still feel cohesive with the mastery of Brent Faiyaz’s style, especially “DEAD MAN WALKING”. It’s important to approach this album as a singular project despite these inclusions as it all falls under the umbrella of a single piece of art. With a lengthy hour listen, this project more than doubles his last two efforts and leaves listeners tons to be excited about.
The first track I’m excited by is “PRICE OF FAME”. This song is drenched in the style of his track Circles that resides exclusively on Youtube. The song is separated into to parts. The first half with a pitched down voice followed by the signature crooning of Faiyaz, followed by a beat switch in the latter half of the song, introducing beautiful instrumentals and a choral introduction that slows the song down. The second half of both of these songs are some of his best work, hands down. They are heartfelt, visceral, and showcases the vocal range of the artist. You won’t find “CIRCLES” in the album or on streaming services but listen to it below then compare it to “PRICE OF FAME” to really get a feel for this album.
The mindset of Wasteland is apparent with the title of the intro — “VILLIAN’S THEME”. We see a further departure of the once humble version of an artist that was tortured by the beginnings of fame as he descends into a wasteland of introspection, drugs, alcohol, and love. The culmination of voices that bombard the ear deliver the message of determination and sinking into a driven mind state that is dissonant of pain. Faiyaz continues to harp on the effects of fame and money and the interpretation of his being as a result of it. This leads to a distorted image of the artist that he constantly attempts to refute through this album. Additionally, the inclusion of skits give us a closer look at the toll these factors play on personal relationships including baby mommas and other flings.
One thing Brent Faiyaz is a master of is creating some of the most enticing interludes and leaving them to be, arguably, his best tracks. See the Sonder Son interlude and intro, and now, the interlude of this album, “HEAL YOUR HEART”. How he is able to fit so much in tracks just longer than a minute is baffling and I’m left in awe by this continued excellence. It’s worth noting that the album does take on a different approach in the latter third. Starting with “ADDICTIONS”, the following tracks are drenched with higher pitch, vocal focused tracks backed by wavy synths. This feels more like the “WASTING TIME” sample we get earlier in the album with heavy doses of old-school R&B infusing elements of funk.
Whatever you were expecting from this album, your expectations will certainly be surpassed with the final skit. A full blown dramatic recreation of suicide ideations, infanticide, and the inability to prevent them are the focus in the wake of a failed relationship. It is shocking to say the least because every bit of this skit, down to the attention of specific sounds, was planned out to develop that shock factor and dramatics. This is followed by perhaps the opus in “ANGELS” where Faiyaz laments for this fading relationship. This songs is worthy of the last track and feels more like a callback to his Sonder days.
It was hard to manage expectations on the first listen of this album. Seeing older songs, I was expecting a shallow effort. But I was pleasantly surprised with the depth of this album, down to the skits. It’s nice welcoming Faiyaz back to the forefront of stardom. This album is the epitome of relational toxicity and showcases the mind of a misunderstood star suffering from the weighty effects of fame — a worthy listen and another addition in a great year for music.
Favorite Tracks: Price of Fame, Heal Your Heart Interlude, Angel