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Kid Cudi’s early magic lost in space on ‘WZRD’

Kid Cudi was once promising.

His debut album, “Man on the Moon: The End of Day,” was an eclectic, moody mix of hip-hop and psychedelia. Since, however, Cudi has seemingly been lost in space, falling flat on both of his subsequent follow-ups, including his latest, the debut album from his new experimental alt-rock act, WZRD.

The self-titled album, crafted in effort with fellow WZRD member Dot Da Genius, is a spacey, experimental rock album without any real trace of hip-hop. At best, it’s a sonically interesting hybrid of deep electronica and ‘70s rock. At worst, it’s an awkward experiment that never quite hits its marks.

The album starts off promising with a resonating, pulsating intro. “WZRD” fails to keep up the momentum, however, as Cudi’s lyricism doesn’t keep pace with the album’s production value, which deserves some credit for at least being aurally interesting.

Cudi has always been a master at hooks — just ask Kanye West. His hooks are on point here, including more up-beat “High Off Life” and “Teleport 2 Me, Jamie.”

The album has its high points, such as their cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” with some bluegrass-like lyrics juxtaposed against a twangy guitar and pulsating bass line. Cudi was on to something, but sadly, his concepts are never quite a consistent success throughout the album.

“WZRD” essentially takes everything that was wrong with “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” and blows it up ten-fold. Tracks such as “Upper Room” and “Dr. Pill” are awkward catharses of rock and trance, which was the same issue with “Moon II.” While Cudi deserves some credit for attempting to break the mold, his execution left a lot to be desired.

“WZRD” becomes a tiresome listen. None of the tracks differ all that much sonically, apart from “Efflictim,” which is the only real track to utilize acoustic guitar. Other tracks feel like skateboard anthems, such as “High Off Life” and “Love Hard,” which is fine — N.E.R.D. is a prime example of how to pull off a fusion of hip-hop and dance punk — but the album jumps around too much tonally to ever make it stick.

“WZRD” is a glorified concept album that never finds its legs — a problem from which Cudi himself seems to be suffering as an artist. If he can never relive the magic of his first album, he might be better off spending the rest of his career as West’s hook guy.

Grade: D+

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