Atmosphere never changes, but constantly evolves. When a new album drops, there are certain themes that we've learned to expect from Slug: self-depreciation, abstract lyrics, unrelenting cynicism and decently-produced "old skool" beats.
Seven's Travels is everything you've come to expect from a new Atmosphere album, but also creates a new path. It's not that Slug has lost his unparalleled insight and doubt; it's just that he's more confident of his uncertainty. Instead of retreading all of the same ideas of the overly whiny God Loves Ugly and its near-perfect predecessor Lucy Ford, Seven's Travels maintains the emotion of the previous album by being stronger and more confident. No more emo-rap tags, please.
Ant's production destroys that of God Loves Ugly, which was fairly bland in comparison. Ant displays his funk/soul side on tracks like "Los Angeles," "Liquor Lyles Cool July" and "Good Times (Sick Pimpin')." Some more traditional Ant tracks such as "Reflections" and "Gotta Lotta Walls" are still a step-up from his previous works. By far the most interesting are the more experimental and noisy tracks, including the first single "Cats Van Bags" and "Suicidegirls."
It's still Slug's lyrics, especially masterful couplets that carry the album. On "Trying to Find a Balance," Slug tells us "While everyone was trying to outdo the last-man/ I was just a ghost trying to catch some Ms. Pac-Man" and on "Reflections," "Let's have a confrontation, over a cold one/ I'll give you conversation just to see if you can hold 'em." Slug's humor comes up in "Shoes," a perfect drunken hook-up narrative with lyrics like "It's closing time/ The spins are going to visit me/ They're rollin' thick like they know they're taking victory/ But not tonight, right?/ I'm gonna make some history/ Get up in your system and direct it like a symphony."
"Cats Van Bags," featuring albinoman, Brother Ali, has some deep reverberating low-end- the kind you get by pouting your lips and blowing. After a couple minuets of a females' degrading phone messages, Slug distortedly and unintelligibly raps on "Suicidegirls." The track is the most experimental on the album and actually rocks in a Rage Against the Machine or Prodigy type of way.
Without an L-bomb on the entire album, ditching Ms. Ford was a good move, as Slug has found his new vehicle is tougher, but with a better sense of humor. Slug spits with more confidence over brawnier, yet more intricate beats. With established punk label Epitaph on distribution for the album, look for Seven's Travels to bring Atmosphere to the near-mainstream.