Ten years ago, producer Timothy Mackenzie created this decade’s first classic, Tinie Tempah’s Pass Out. Going solo as Simon Cowell’s sole non-TV protege, Mackenzie’s debut Labrinth album was promising if underwhelming, as was 2018’s LSD hookup with Sia and Diplo, although his score for controversial teen drug drama Euphoria was well received. This second album appears to be a meditation on the tension between creativity and commerce.
This may h ave been a mistake. Mackenzie’s songs hint at partying and promiscuity, but seem most exercised about God and the music business – without offering a single interesting thought about either. His endlessly inventive music is decent in tiny bursts, but wearying at album length, offering beats that demand awe, yet supply pure meh.
Was this made by robots in a fulfilment centre, tasked with repackaging mediocrity every 64 bars? Labrinth needs a ghostwriter to giddy up his lyrics, a songwriter to give his ideas shape and a manager to keep him from the microphone. On the track Sexy MF (thankfully not a Prince cover), he bottles singing the “F”. An album that only an “M” could love.