Album Review: Eminem – Recovery

I suspect every review of Eminem’s new album, Recovery, will rightfully open with these words: Guess who’s back?

After three straight masterpieces and some excellent contributions to the soundtrack of his movie 8 Mile, Eminem tanked on Encore and Relapse. He’s far too talented for those albums to have been completely worthless, but they were a pale shadow of his previous accomplishments. Exhibit A that something was wrong: Not only did he think “Ass Like That” was worth recording, he thought it was a worthy single.

He knows he let us down: “Them last two albums didn’t count. Encore I was on drugs, Relapse I was flushing ‘em out.”

Clean, sober, and determined to get his groove back, Eminem gets so back to basics that Recovery is more stripped down than his major-label debut, The Slip Shady LP. Gone are the stupid skits (the bane of far too many rap albums) and even the traditional album closer first line, “A lot of people ask me…” Recovery is all music, no gimmicks.

And fine music it is. While Recovery doesn’t quite reach the heights of the holy trinity of The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and The Eminem Show, it comes damn close. The one bit of filler, the lame sex rap “Seduction,” is almost necessary to give the listener a chance to catch his breath before a furious second half that opens with an absolutely menacing cameo by Lil Wayne on “No Love” and never lets up for a second.

Along the way, Eminem notches what will probably be the single of the year, “Love the Way You Lie,” where an aching chorus from Rihanna (not content with only having 2007’s single of the year, apparently) anchors a wonderfully-strummed guitar bed for Marshall’s heartbroken rhymes. It’s a tremendous song, and it will seal his comeback the moment it hits radio.

Shady’s back. Tell a friend.

Eminem – “Not Afraid”

Eminem (with Rihanna) – “Love the Way You Lie”

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