Kid Cudi's worst habits are more prescient on "Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon."
Although none of his albums have really been critical hits, Kid Cudiâs main appeal is using outside, atypical influences and sounds to articulate some sort of emotional journey into the tortured soul. Heâs connected with his young adult audience by embodying this idea of the discontent, rebellious youth with some sticky hooks for good measure â can one ever truly get âDay âNâ Niteâ out of his/her head?
Satellite Flight: Journey to the Mother Moon is Cudiâs most experimental work to date, but he still doesnât traverse too far away from this loner concept â this project bridges back to a larger story in the upcomingÂ Man on the Moon III. He does end the project with the refrain âNo one wants a troubled boyâ on the fittingly titled âTroubled Boy.â The experimentation and the element of surprise surrounding the release doesnât hide Cudiâs consistent weaknesses. As Cudder travels further away from the upper end of the Billboard charts, his constant lack of dedication to musicality continuously makes itself more apparent. He can get his props for taking chance, but basic things like the inability to sing still weigh him down.
This is particularly damning on Satellite Flight, as itâs intended to be atmospheric and immersive. Cudi tries a little bit of everything here while flirting with unfamiliar territory. Brooding effects and an elastic synth welcomes syncopated percussive stomps on the albumâs intro. The WZRD-produced âGoing to the Ceremony,â which comes up next, is Satellite Flightâs most thrilling track. Itâs ironic, too. The album is awash with emotionless electronics and perhaps its best track succeeds off simple thrills: a simple guitar riff that builds into euphoric peaks.
The strings on âSatellite Flightâ are good, but hereâs another case of Cudi bringing his own project down. Heâs far from being as compelling a vocalist as he is a persona. Thereâs a sense heâs feigning some type of alienation in his performances, but songs don't get the replay button on the playlist for their conceptual merits, Â they have to actually sound good. Cudi sounds close to death as he moans lyrics like âCome get in my space whip,â and then âLet me taste itâ two tracks later, with a wasted effort from Raphael Saadiq on âBalmain Jeans?â Thatâs hard on the ears.Â
Itâs not like the beats are necessarily the saving grace for Satellite Flight either. Kid Cudi does a good job at making the production at least sound expensive, but the commitment to the outer space concept gets tiring after the grating computerized sounds of âCopernicus Landingâ runs its course.
Again, Cudi's catalogue doesnât come stacked with greatness, but heâs rarely sounded as cold and unlikeable as he does in the second half of Satellite Flight. Cudiâs borderline cacophonous vocals are one thing. The starry synths swing toward the bland side on âInternal Bleeding,â as Cudi reaches new nadirs in crooning. âIn My Dreams 2015â is another skippable track thatâs insistent on giving this space travel aesthetic. âReturn of the Moon Man (Original Score)â is an instrumental hodgepodge of orchestral dramatics, spaghetti western guitar strums and urgent horns that's ultimately underwhelming.
Cudiâs hums on the closing sleeper âTroubled Boyâ is somewhat symbolic of a larger issue thatâs plagued him as an artist. Itâs the idea of a rock star stripped of the excesses and myths of the image thatâs helped him connect with a large audience. The social media age closes the distance between the listener and the audience, so such perceived transparency is something thatâs desirable these days (look at Drake). But Cudi lacks substance and Satellite Flight â a messy, extraterrestrial endurance test â is the latest example of this. Perhaps this is simply a transition record he needed to get off his chest. One can only hope this is a misstep.