Following his playful, eccentric Jhelli Beam, Los Angeles rapper Busdriver (Regan John Farquhar) returns with Beaus$eros, a self-described "poppy" breakup album, appropriately cleaved between the irascible and insatiable. An album of skittering electronic pulses and surreal manic verse, Beaus$eros is pop music à la Bowie's "Berlin trilogy."
The opening set is strong, strange, vital and focused in ways some of the subsequent tunes are not—rendering the rest of the album desultory to the point of distraction. Opener "Utilitarian Uses of Love" is a squishy, rollicking jam. "Bon Bon Fire" is a sparkling, electric and carefree club anthem. (It even, consciously or not, quotes the theme song of Nickelodeon cartoon Doug.) Meanwhile, "Kiss Me Back to Life" is a febrile, nocturnal tune of gothic electronics and sexual angst.
Some of the material suffers from the album's esoteric or frenzied flourishes. "Beaus and Eros," a silly slo jam ("You knew this when you fell in love with ... what was left of me / So, let's give this another shot, young missy"), is derailed by its injection of cacophonous, repetitious yelps. The puerile stomp of "Ass to Mouth" wanders far too much. Similarly, the atmospheric soundscapes and staccato electronics of "Swandive Into a Drinking Glass" fizzle into monotony minutes before the track actually ends.
The psychedelic bubbles of "You Ain't OG," the heady rap-politick of "NoBlacksNoJewsNoAsians," the swagger of "Here's to Us" and the ethereal, becalming bounce of "Scattered Ashes" round Beaus$eros out as a spotty but ultimately satisfying set of art-rap.