Troubled Paradise mostly works to expose Slayyyter’s brand as more shallow gimmick than evolving art.
While there was that one definitive 2019 hyperpop album that dominated most mainstream music coverage (hint: it was our AOTY), the year also saw the release of the less talked about — yet equally as hectic and sticky — debut self-titled mixtape from human Catherine Grace Garner, AKA internet-entity Slayyyter (spelled exactly as is, extra Ys and all), an amalgamation of kitschy Britney worship, happy hardcore musical stylings, and a vulgar visual aestheitc straight out of 2000s VH1 reality programing. It blew its load at about the halfway point with “Daddy AF,” a song that was coincidentally about blowing your load, but showed enough songwriting savvy and promise during its initial leg to not make the affair a total wash. It was an encouraging debut, the type where one can clearly see what bugs needed to be fixed and what quirks needed to be ironed out for what’s supposed to be the even better follow-up record. Troubled Paradise is not that record, or even in the ballpark of that record; from a purely qualitative standpoint, it’s actually hard to say if Slayyyter is improving or not compared to her last outing. But while the last time we heard her resulted in a lot of fun, one now gets the distinct feeling that it was perhaps just a fluke; there’s little provided here to suggest that, after this, we’re in store for something — anything — better on the horizon.
The first four tracks are all at least solid — especially the aggressive, horn-blaring “Throatzillaaa” and some of its more choice lyrics (“I went straight down from the very first kiss/Like, baby, lemme swallow them kids”) that position its lead artist as the Godzilla or King Kong of dick-sucking. The other three are likewise enjoyable and capture the deranged spirit and ethos of what one would expect coming into the record, but they can also often feel like tired retreads of old material with a less biting attitude, like the really cringe line on “Venom” about how all these vegan bitches “want beef.” But problems really arrive with “Butterflies,” which is the first noticeable instance of how shallow Slayyyter’s entire shtick is once she tries to attempt anything remotely sincere, and more follow soon after: the production choices from here on out sound amorphously out of touch with anything one could possibly consider exciting. The previous song has a lifeless trap beat, and the following title track is artificial to a fault; “Cowboys” offers some alt-country twang, but feels like a desperate gimmick far beneath Grace’s usual level of skill. But perhaps most damningly, Slayyyter as a persona feels even less defined here than on the mixtape — it was always a bit of a hodgepodge before, but at least reflected a distinctive entity with their own outrageous voice. On “Serial Killer,” Grace sounds quite a bit like No Doubt-era Gwen Stefani, but with a flat intonation that suggests she’s merely going through the motions. Which might actually be the best way to summarize what’s accomplished here: it’s more of the same, but usually not as good, and when it’s not doing that, it’s noticeably crummy.
Published as part of Album Roundup — June 2021 | Part 1.