Slayyyter’s new album, Troubled Paradise, is a misleading title. There’s nothing troubled about it—compositionally at least. The album—the second full body of work produced—deftly navigates the pressures of artistic development; that is, how does an artist develop in the right direction for their fans and themselves? The final product consists of her pre-established raunchy appeal, but Slayyyter decides to take a more personal, softer approach beginning half-way through the album, showing vulnerability underneath an over-sensitized-to-the-point-of-desensitized image.
The album starts off with four sonically familiar, similar songs: “Self-Destruct,” one of the six singles releases off the album, featuring Wuki, “Venom,” “Throatzillaaa,” (another one of the singles), and “Dog House.” Having these open the album is a smart choice positionally. They re-introduce Slayyyter listeners to her give-no-fucks attitude and music with humorous quips like “All these vegan bitches want beef” (Venom) and “Baby let me swallow those kids” (Throatzillaaa).
However, considering the album’s arc and the songs’ sonic similarities, not adhering to the rule of three makes this portion of the album feel like one song too long. “Dog House,” a solid song but the weakest of the bunch, would have been better suited as a stand-alone single, or placed elsewhere on the track list.
“Butterflies” is where the album begins to transition sonically and thematically, acting as a bridge by combining the harsh speak-singing found in the first part of Troubled Paradise and pairing it with the softer vocals and lyrics found in the middle.
“Troubled Paradise,” “Clouds,” and “Cowboys” comprise the mid-way point of the album and its arc. This trio denote a different direction for Slayyyter. The album’s beginning reinforces Slayyyter’s image as a rambunctious woman, yet these three songs serve as a reminder, as she sings in “Troubled Paradise,” “[she] has feelings too.”
Releasing “Troubled Paradise” as a single was a risky choice. On first listen, for those expecting a re-hash of Slayyyter’s mixtape, the song lacks commitment to either end of the musical spectrum: hyper-pop or ballad. Yet, after the initial shock, “Troubled Paradise” marks the album’s success. The shift in tone and its pop softness allow the listener to view a new side of Slayyyter and for Slayyytter, the song opens the door for new artistic exploration.
Out of the last four songs—”Serial Killer,” “Over This!,” “Villain,” and “Letters,”— only “Serial Killer” feels like the inevitable filler number. But its placement could be strategic. Coming after “Cowboys” allows the listeners to digest the mighty trio that came before it and gives breathing room before “Over This!” begins.
“Over This!” is sonically closer to the start of the album, but lyrically similar to the middle. The song is about a boy, but since it acts as a combination of the two sides of Slayyyter, it isn’t a stretch to interpret the word choice as Slayyyter being done with her intense Y2K aesthetic. The song is not only enjoyable to listen to, but also compelling. It earns its placement as the last of the album’s singles to be released and gives weight to Slayyyter’s artistry to any person not convinced of her talent.
“Letters” ends the album on an intriguing note. “Troubled Paradise” risked becoming generic due to its seeming lack of commitment. “Letters” leans into the heartfelt ballad which’s impact is only intensified as it’s so left field for the singer. Troubled Paradise (the album) takes heavy inspiration from The Wizard of Oz lyrically and aesthetically. The album also marks a departure from Slayyyter’s Y2K presence. In the arc of the album, the songs parallels Dorothy’s departure from Oz. The song is a smart choice to end the album. It emphasizes the new, human side of Slayyyter and leaves the listener wondering what Slayyyter’s next step will be.
Overall, Troubled Paradise is a success. Slayyyter demonstrates her humanity without leaning into sappy sentimentality. Troubled Paradise, even while emotionally more raw than her previous body of work, still works as a series of club tracks—clubs being the primary stomping ground for the largely queer Slayyyter fanbase. What’s most exciting about the album is being able to watch an artist grow. Meshing her old and new selves pipes interest on what the artist will do next. And that’s what’s so exciting about this piece of art: It leaves the listener unsure of what’s next, which implies a certain level of fascination and satisfaction with the art already placed in front.
Listen to Troubled Paradise on Spotify here.
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