Ambition is an odd force in music. Sometimes it seems an artist has none, churning out albums hardly any different from each other, content to stay within a style. Others experiment, failing or succeeding to various extents. It’s a thin line to walk, risk and reward intertwining on both sides. With You’re Dead! Flying Lotus walks the line of ambition, veering from his previous albums into a mixing bowl of death and jazz.
The album’s songs are short, most around a minute and a half in length, flowing into each other, beginning where the last left off. Unfortunately this limits the accessibility of the album, as it’s not particularly interesting to listen to unless done sequentially in one sitting. Setting up the songs like this can make an album more interesting in some cases, Between the Buried and Me’s Colors for example, but here it just makes a large amount of the songs incredibly boring when listened to individually. While this album does seem to be ambitious in a storytelling sense it lacks substance or memorable songs.
The album’s first single, “Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar”, was released a few weeks in advance of the album and actually sounded quite promising, blending jazz, rap, and electronic deftly to great effect. In fact, it’s probably the album’s best song. However, that song is the only instance of such flash on the album. It’s not the only collaboration with hip hop on the album either, “Dead Man’s Tetris” features Snoop Dogg but plods on dully and without purpose. A few tracks, such as “Moment of Hesitation”, “Obligatory Cadence” and “The Protest”, show hints of promise that just aren’t capitalized on. Unfortunately that seems to be representative of the album as a whole, a few ambitious ideas that aren’t executed nearly as well as they could be.