Nash’s break-up album is just as captivating as his songs of bedroom rumpus.
Natalie Shaw 2011-09-09
As news of Terius ‘The-Dream’ Nash’s infidelities hit the papers, legions of people started rubbing their hands together filthily: what more could this bad-guy genius possibly give away about the innermost workings of his brain, and just how many more pop songs would it take before he broke? Fans of The-Dream’s own material – and his empowering writing for Beyoncé, Rihanna and Mariah – have been fed since day one with astonishing top line melodies, delicious contradictions, offhand gender role-play and lyrics so filthy they practically dry-hump the air. While Nash may almost exclusively make songs about sex, he never stops being inventive – and the great news is that 1977 feels heavier, deeper and more addictive than ever.
Nothing’s changed in terms of panache here, but for Nash’s new-found vulnerability. 1977 is a stopgap release between his third and fourth albums ‘proper’, released independently and for free. As off-putting as it sounds, he makes diarised lyrics work – largely because it sounds like lying spread-eagle before the listener is the only way he knows how. Rough drafts magically spin into diamond-encrusted melodies throughout 1977’s 11 tracks.
Post break-up, Nash’s head seems to be spinning – even if we were led to believe that his previous braggadocio had him prepared for the aftermath. In a three-song run, he rebels against his critics (Wake Me When It’s Over), eschews the blame (Used To Be) and then rushes back to bemoan the moment when the sex got whack (Long Gone). One minute he comes stumbling into a wedding out of his mind on tequila (Wedding Crasher), the next he’s drafting in Casha and a collection of designer goods to pump up his ego (Rolex). There’s no thought for making music his fans can empathise with, yet we like him all the same – because of that very same smart wrongness he manifests.
Where his last LP, Love King, was rich in smooth sounds oozing defiance and passion, 1977 is entirely inconsistent emotionally. The timeline is as far from the seamlessly silky segue of that set’s Yamaha/Nikki Pt. 2/Abyss run, so much so that its centre-point doesn’t drop until track eight. Nash’s tribute to his late mother, 1977 (Miss You Still), offers the most important and consistent feeling – a sudden realisation that "No matter how bright the sun may shine / It will never dry away this pain".
The combination of weightless synths, thundering drums and endlessly rising falsetto can feel sadistic, but it suits Nash perfectly. 1977 may be a blip for this artist in regard to its genesis, but for anyone other than his ex-wife (and perhaps himself) it’s an utter pleasure.