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Aural Pleasure Review

Grieves: Together/Apart

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Grieves will catch flack for sounding like emo-hip-hop duo Atmosphere, but he's hardly the Puddle of Mudd to their Nirvana. His rhyme schemes, topics, and tuneful hooks are delivered with a confidence befitting his four years in the game. Meanwhile, producer/labelmate Budo has time-tested breaks and cinematic textures on lock (his instrumental contribution "Speak Easy" is criminally short). The problem with Grieves' Rhymesayers debut isn't that he sounds too much like his forebears; it's that he sounds too much like himself. The album begins and ends with pristine runs of introspective mid-tempo cuts, the highlight of which is the latest single, "On the Rocks," which paints normalcy as drunkenly dragging oneself along the pavement because it beats dealing with life's trials. But the seven tracks following "On the Rocks" are variations on the self-destructive and insanity themes, making Together/Apart redundant. It's a shame, because Grieves soars on the ego jam "Prize Fighter," the backpacker slow jam "Heartbreak Hotel," and "Falling From You," a revenge ballad about a girlfriend he can't quit. This album could have been stripped to nine cuts, resulting in a four-star LP. Instead, it's an uneven, but respectable work that would have been better if it sacrificed length for a brief, but dramatic display of Grieves' strengths.

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