Recovery Eminem is calling a do-over. Last year's gory Relapse , his first full-length release after a four-year battle with addiction, sold briskly but left many… Recovery Eminem is calling a do-over. Last year's gory Relapse , his first full-length release after a four-year battle with addiction, sold briskly but left many… 2010-06-21 Eminem Hip-Hop/Rap
Music Review

Recovery (2010)

Eminem | FULL RECOVERY ? Eminem's lyrical craftsmanship is second to none on new album, and there are flashes of new maturity — but gratuitous nastiness still…
Image credit: Nigel Parry
FULL RECOVERY? Eminem's lyrical craftsmanship is second to none on new album, and there are flashes of new maturity — but gratuitous nastiness still surfaces too
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Release Date: Jun 21, 2010; Lead Performance: Eminem; Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Eminem is calling a do-over. Last year's gory Relapse, his first full-length release after a four-year battle with addiction, sold briskly but left many listeners unsatisfied — including, it seems, the rapper himself. ''Them last two albums didn't count/[2004's] Encore I was on drugs, Relapse I was flushing 'em out,'' he confesses on Recovery's ''Talkin' 2 Myself.'' ''I've got something to prove to fans, 'cause I feel like I let 'em down.''

He's too hard on himself. Relapse had its merits, and Recovery — originally titled Relapse 2 before a late switch­— shares them. For the second album in a row, Eminem returns to the verbal acrobatics that defined his early work, showering these 17 songs with dazzling cadences and multisyllabic rhymes. Lil Wayne, the ­album's sole rap guest, spits more fiercely than he has in a year and still barely keeps up. In an era when flimsy lyrics rule hip-hop, the redoubled craftsmanship that screams from Eminem's verses deserves all the more respect.

But like the slasher-flick-esque Relapse before it, Recovery falters when it comes to those verses' subject matter. At times, Eminem seems more mature, paying heartfelt tribute to a late friend, grappling frankly with his pill-popping past, and striving to spread the inner peace that sobriety has brought him. Yet these moments are undermined by others that seethe with as much contempt for women and gays as ever. Even when sharing tracks with pop queens like Pink and Rihanna, he's enraged. Gratuitous nastiness is nothing new for Eminem, but if he really wants to prove something, he could try recording an entire album without any. B+

Download These:
You're Never Over, a touching eulogy at amazon.com
Talkin' 2 Myself, a brutally honest confessional at amazon.com

See all of this week's reviews

Originally posted Jun 21, 2010 Published in issue #1109 Jul 02, 2010 Order article reprints
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