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Tyler, the Creator: Wolf (Odd Future) 

Two things will make Tyler, the Creator—a strong personality and often sharp musician—immeasurably better: first, ditching his overused, synthetically modulated vocal gimmick. And, second, avoiding lame attempts at narrative control that are invariably about his (neither interesting nor novel) split personalities.

Fittingly, Tyler's third album, Wolf, is another maddeningly spotty release. Tyler's obvious wit and musical dexterity make his indulgences and stumbles more frustrating—such evident talent also explains the uproar about his perceived misogyny and homophobia. Trading much of the hard-edged sounds of Goblin for a smoother, moodier ambiance, Wolf does evidence maturity. "Answer" is a gorgeous track about his absent father, while epic "PartyIsntOver/Campfire/Bimmer" is elegantly assisted by Stereolab's Lætitia Sadier and Frank Ocean, and both tracks are endlessly more arresting than any of Tyler's shock-tactics material.

Wolf's incredible guest list, including Odd Future standouts like Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt as well as Pharrell Williams and Erykah Badu, only exacerbate the vacuous nature of a track like "Trashwang," a foolish attempt to squeeze as many untalented Odd Future members as possible on one song. Once Tyler's ambition and talent—including knowing when to make a mature musical decision—align, the resulting work will stun for all the right reasons.

More by Michael Petitti

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