Recovery is full of contradiction. While claiming repeatedly that this album is a return to form, he bashes Relapse as inferior crap that should be thrown in the trash. Seeing as Relapse is arguably the best album in his oeuvre, it's disheartening that he so easily dismisses the material on it, which is wrought with emotion, creativity, and insidiously catchy melodies. Recovery can't make that claim. For all the fanfare of Recovery being an "I'm back, baby," it's pretty darn banal, especially for Slim who seemed to have grown past much of the name-calling and bullshit expletives that taint his and oodles of other rap music. No, Recovery is still full of: "Blah blah, kick a bitch in the cunt, blah blah, call me a faggot 'cause I hate a pussy, blah blah, we'll walk together through the storm, blah blah..." Yawn. Unfortunately, some of the best sounding bits on the album are the most clichéd. "Not Afraid" gives us some truly awful lyrics, but Eminem sings (not raps) the chorus with such earnest, such accomplishment, I almost can't help but feel moved despite how mundane it all is. Almost.
Rihanna pops up the album on its most accessible track "The Way You Lie," but the song screams bad songwriting, even though I found myself singing the chorus after one listening:
Just gonna stand here and watch me burnNeed I mention the horrid syntax? Similarly, "Cinderella Man" has a contagious riff, but its themes have been done for decades now: "Smash an hour glass, grab the sand, take his hands and cup 'em / Spin around to freeze a clock, take the hands of time and cuff 'em." Weren't the Temptations singing similar lyrics forty years ago?
That's all right because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand here and hear me cry
That's all right because I love the way you lie
Perhaps the biggest sin is that Em's back to blaming everybody else for his bullshit. Relapse came across as an explanation rather than excuse, clearly taking responsibility for asshattery that occurred while he was in the throes of addiction. His formal apology on Recovery, in the song "Talkin' 2 Myself," comes across as hollow as he whines how his jealousy of artists like Lil Wayne and Kanye, not to mention their success, drove him to drug and drink. To further the emptiness of the apology, he "lets" Lil Wayne show up on the truly annoying "No Love," a song so monotonous and unharmonious, it makes Ke$ha sound like Joni freakin' Mitchell.
Recovery makes me truly sad. It clearly indicates that his own recovery is not as secure as he thinks, or would like us to think, it is. I wouldn't be surprised in the least to hear from him next year with an album that's not called Denial, but probably should be.