IGOR: The break-up album that proves Tyler, the Creator belongs in a category all his own

The album cover for IGOR, which what created entirely by Tyler, the Creator himself.

Image courtesy of Spotify

The album cover for “IGOR,” which what created entirely by Tyler, the Creator himself.

Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Bon Iver. Break-up albums have been a staple in the music landscape, with these 21st century auteurs having some of the most soul-drenching of personal stories that reach something deeply humanistic: the loss of a loved one. This loss, whether through death or separation, is one that Tyler, the Creator has clearly been dealing with lately, which he chronicles sonically in his new album, “IGOR.”

Tyler, the Creator recently has been quietly slithering his way into the mainstream, with his previous album, “Flower Boy,” garnering him critical acclaim and fanfare, with a deserved Grammy nomination to follow. So, where do you go after that?

For Tyler, you go in every direction musically while sticking to the basics lyrically. This gives Tyler a jungle gym of styles, sounds and inspirations to work with, as the bass-heavy percussions contrast the lo-fi, funk melodies to suggest that Tyler is as emotionally diffused as all of us. The tonal consistency of abrasively inconsistent feelings of loving someone, wanting to forget all about them and then just wanting to be “friends” is something that Tyler knows is a common theme, but the ways he goes about telling his story is anything but conventional.

The album’s tracklist act as anecdotal chapters to the stories Tyler is telling us, “EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM YOU END UP CHASING,” “A BOY IS A GUN” and “PUPPET” being prime examples of this. The exaggerated capitalization matches the charged emotion that shows Tyler either screaming his feelings directly at someone, or more likely just into the void – a void of wishful thinking and dreamful hypotheticals that act as a precursor to a return to a joyous past while stuck in the gloomy state of the forsaken present.

The rule-breaking formula that Tyler follows on this project reminds me of potential inspirations all across the board. From Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” to Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” it’s always hard to predict where the album’s tonal essence will go. The swaying variety of the instrumentals determine this tone alongside Tyler’s fluctuating intonation, making for a truly unique emotionally-driven experience.

I stress the word “experience” because that is the kind of journey that Tyler takes us on: one of blissful highs and depressing lows. In Tyler’s lovelife though, these highs and lows seem to be spliced with feelings of hatred, embrace and cognitive dissonance that can make the sanest of individuals lose grasp of their sanity. Everything feels complete and intentional, yet messy and discombobulated. It reflects the feeling of loss and mysticism when a relationship, or the semblance of one, subtly fades away, no matter how close we want to hold them or how far we want them to be. The album leaves us shaken, stirred and mixed-up with so many styles and influences that make something wholly unique. We feel lost but on the right path, a path curated and rightfully designated by Tyler, the Creator, a stage name that feels equally as deserved, with his style finally being as great as his resonating substance.