PARTYNEXTDOOR — ‘PARTYMOBILE’ Review

“Anything less you won’t accept it/So I give you the best of me.”

“Don’t hold your breath/Don’t wait on my love.”

If no other lines from PARTYNEXTDOOR’s third studio album stuck with you, let these refrains from yearning opener “NOTHING LESS” and penultimate fan-favorite “SAVAGE ANTHEM” be the ones. They double as messages to both any woman in his life and his fans — Jahron Anthony Brathwaite marches to the beat of his own drum. Whether that’s breaking you off in the living room or taking his time to release new music, it will only occur when it feels right by him because the OVO crooner is always in the driver’s seat. Like any journey, there have been bumps along the way but through the delays, PARTYMOBILE arrived safe and sound at its destination.

It had been three trips around the sun plus some change since 2016’s P3, and less if we count 2017’s Colours 2 and Seven Days EPs. P3 was easily PARTY’s most experimental work to date, truly diving into the “blues” aspect of R&B. Naturally, it was also his most scrutinized. Seven Days was a true salad bowl of sounds both new and old. None of these projects were met with the overwhelming positivity of PARTYNEXTDOOR and PARTYNEXTDOOR 2. They were haunted by them. It is perplexing when you look at tracks that capture PND’s essence like “You’ve Been Missed,” “Peace of Mind,” “Bad Intentions,” and “Low Battery,” seemingly flying under the radar. He got stuck in traffic he created for himself.

This LP’s entire rollout felt much more focused and intentional than previous releases where the music has literally just been released. This one was made into a true event prior to release and the day of. We got singles, multiple changed release dates, the album title, and cover art ahead of time. He partnered up with Twitch for a live stream release party including a “DJ set” and album listening behind some fitting visuals now available on YouTube. Two merchandise capsules have come out as well, making this feel as if the label was behind PARTY as much as the people have been. Everything was simple yet effective, much like the album itself. It was a moment.

Do you want to talk about moments? Rihanna. She and the “Work” songwriter have done damage together before, but their first traditional collaboration “BELIEVE IT” could not have come at a better time. Fans were demanding music from them both and as patience ran thin, this song served as a buzzer-beater. Even if Rih only handled the hook and some harmonies on the first verse, they both sounded great. The song was announced as the next single from the album, fortuitous as it is already seeing serious traction on the radio and Apple Music charts. Aside from the hype of this record, it is substantive.

PARTY had a lot on his mind, opening with “First, you got to forgive me/Let me know everything goin’ to be ok/Even if I come out with everything I did/Would you still punish me, even though I did it a long time ago?” Real. What is the statute of limitations on toxicity? Well, this is not solely out of the desire to be gluttonous. He has serious feelings for this lady, acknowledging her “pussy power.”

Rihanna’s reply? Keep it 100. “Best make me believe it, best make me believe it, believe you won’t deceive me.” I cannot help but wish she said the lines about killing him or calling him a “lucky motherfucker” but it is great to hear Robyn’s voice period. Perhaps that would be bad publicity, anyways? Though PARTY himself says she has got that going for her already. “There’s two sides to the story/And that girl got a good PR.” Who knows?

Intro “NOTHING LESS” and “TURN UP” precede a three-song run of the album’s pre-release singles, which is either great or annoying depending on how you feel about them. The former tugs at the emotions, presenting the case of a humble lover. “TURN UP” in particular really hit home, interpolating Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock” chant as he encourages his lady to let loose. Often times the beauty of a road trip is encountering something new on the way. Thus the slow start to this project in terms of newer work symbolizes stopping to get gas in your town before you set out on the real adventure. This is not to say the singles were not enjoyable; each one had its own spark and sounded even better amongst the entire sequence.

Once we are on the highway and “TOUCH ME” hits, it is full-speed ahead. This was an especially good follow-up to “LOYAL” and pregame for “TRAUMA.” Intentional or not, songs one to four feel catered to the winter while “LOYAL” to “Showing You” sound like the spring or summer section of the album. PARTY has a gift when it comes to making music you want to dance to with a drink in hand. “EYE ON IT” falls into that mold, though it is the weakest of his dance-influenced records on PARTYMOBILE, and possibly overall. If you catch the right whine when we can finally go outside, what does it matter?

The title “TOUCH ME” goes against all current social-distancing rules, but he cleans it up with the lines “I swear I want your FaceTime even though it’s hardly face time/It’s on your waistline.” The true issue comes when you really listen to what is being said on “TRAUMA.” You groove but slowly realize he is solidifying his membership in the legion of artists who create pain celebrations like this. It hurts so good. “Traumatized, I need you in my life/I’m so, I’m so, I’m so trauma.” Alas, we ride.

The most notable difference in this album is the fact PARTYNEXTDOOR’s name does not show up on a single production credit. He has long been known for crafting his own sound and being quite good at it while also writing and recording. This is a feat many strive toward but cannot always achieve the desired balance. Still, letting go of that responsibility only frees up time to get even better at song making. Bizness Boi, OG Parker, Alex Lustig, Murda Beatz, Cardiak and more have been around the Mississauga artist for some time. The production and songwriting came together on this project like finding the exact change you need in the cup holder to pay a toll.

How long before we deep dive “SAVAGE ANTHEM?” Almost there, hold tight.

It is always enjoyable seeing an artist handle the majority of verses on their own project. It feels wrong to critique what could have been instead of what exists. That said, I cannot help but wonder what a world would be like where The Weeknd joined the fun on “NEVER AGAIN.” It is right in the Weeknd’s wheelhouse. A spacey, mid-tempo bop where he could get off all of the tenor runs and “ooh yea’s” that his heart desires.

As an aside, it is fascinating that their careers have completely different trajectories yet they parallel in their home country, connections to Aubrey as their tenures began, and the way their fans prefer their older material. That can cripple an artist who doesn’t stand firm in what they want to do. If it were up to fans, PARTY may have never worked with Calvin Harris, ZAYN, and Halsey.

Speaking of debuts holding people back, the charming flute and complimentary strings on “SHOWING YOU” sound perfect for Louisville’s elusive Bryson Tiller. It is great to see him happy with his lady and baby, so we cannot be too mad we have not gotten all that much from him in a while. Upon hearing “Leaning” though, you know what these two can do together. Even if that song is not the same type of aura, streets want the official link-up.

Lastly, the deceptively optimistic aria “ANOTHER DAY” had a spot for labelmates dvsn. It was a beautiful song overall and easily a top deep cut from the album. Unfortunately, it is also the shortest song but the repeat button is right there! “There’s always another day/Imma put on Marvin Gaye/I’ll push the bottle away for you.” Daniel Daley and Nineteen85 kill piano keys and mellow hi-hats every time, so the collaboration makes sense. It also wouldn’t have hurt to hear a woman get a verse on this song either. Now, the absence of said guest appearances doesn’t render these specific records bad in any way. They still get spins. It was just some fantasy A&Ring.

It is time. R&B is often at its most beautiful when a song’s content reveals human immorality. Whether it is infidelity, dishonesty, or narcissism, we embrace the negatives, in turn making them feel all the better. “SAVAGE ANTHEM” is a firm, terrifyingly beautiful commitment by PARTY to staying true to his nature. The choice to go with raw vocals here was perfect. Sinister. Demonic. Evil.

“Don’t wait on my reply to your text/Don’t wait on my nut from your sex/Don’t trust me to capture the moment/Forgive me, it just was a moment.” There is literally no deception or misguidance here. He heard you, Rihanna. It just may not have been exactly what you intended to get out of him.

The song immediately raised some eyebrows when he gets into the number two wordplay. It was quickly obvious that he was alluding to the infamous 2016 love triangle between ex-lover Kehlani, Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving and himself. Only this time, he was all about the shenanigans. He accepted his subordinate role if it meant sex without strings. Honestly, though, this deep dive could end at the first line of verse two. “I put the dirt into dirtbag.”

Why would we do that though when he gives us so much more later? “Me bein’ faithful’s the issue/Tryna clean up ’cause you comin’ soon/I broke her off in the livin’ room/There is a smell in the livin’ room/Know that’s fucked up, that’s what pimpin’ do.” Yikes. As gruesome as this may be for some to hear, you have to honor the fact he isn’t trying to dance around his truths. Like, the opening line to verse three, “Wash my dick off before I get home.” Alright, man. This honesty isn’t for everyone, but he’s not done.

“I’m the opposite of hero/The opposite of your hero/The make-up, the breakup was see-through/The way I did you was illegal” Is he trying to ruin the game for everyone else? I know it’s 2020 and we’re being honest, but good God. It’s especially admirable because he doesn’t place any of the blame on her. “I gave you the hope, you did the hopin’” Yes, he planted this idea in your head. You went with it. You are not crazy for that. Wow. “SAVAGE ANTHEM” likely answered many people’s questions that have been plaguing them for some time, and created new questions for others. It is a heartbreaking confessional, but music to the ears of the most troubled folks. Especially the holy-sounding vocals at the end. It’s a symphony of terror.

If not for the “LOYAL” remix featuring Drake and Bad Bunny needing to be placed somewhere for streaming purposes, the album would have ended on the perfect note. If PARTY has already delivered us his strongest opener ever in “Welcome To The Party,” throw “SAVAGE ANTHEM” in the mix as his best closing track of all-time. Throw this whole album into the conversation for his top three best works ever. No, it is not P1 or P2. It is not meant to be either. Don’t get so caught up in calling for what was that you miss what is. PARTYNEXTDOOR has a full tank of gas and a turn-by-turn route of where he wants to be. PARTYMOBILE is a sign that he is on the right track. See you next trip.

Writer, editor, curator, podcast host, passionate overthinker of all things music and wrestling. Content — linktr.ee/armonsadler. Hope you enjoy!

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