For an album visually represented by a shaded-off window, Oddisee’s The Beauty In All sonically conjures a window actually opening for the very first time on the inaugural track “After Thoughts”: grandiose instrumentation composed by whirling, quick-roll piano notes create a particular atmosphere for the listener. We are meant to feel awe as our eyes look through the glass, and our lines of vision travel throughout a new world that has just been revealed (all thanks to auditory perception). There is a very spatial element to the experience, evoking images illuminated by moonlight. A truly beautiful piece, “After Thoughts” ultimately supersedes the project itself due to the exhaustion of its elements over the course of eleven songs that follow.
Nearly each track relies on a very subdued, hardly hard-hitting, dusted drum sequence or a lack of variation in tempo. The result is a near-blandness that, while not omnipresent, detracts from the overall success of The Beauty In All. Whereas the intro created a moment of wonder, discovery and reflection through its engaging sustainment of synth textures, drum changes, and piano layering, songs such as “Fashionably Late” and “Fievre” flutter and fail to recapture a similar effect. More specifically, the slow-moving second segment of “Fashionably Late” is at best soothing, though this calmness can more accurately be described as simply unremarkable.
The reliance on the black and white keys alone make for a rather homogeneous listen, with enough minor details or accents to just barely distinguish between one track and another. However, the similarities do not end with instrumentation: a stagnant song structure is also executed on a majority of these songs, and, aside from any certain symbolic meaning, it is
executed poorly. With anywhere between one and two minutes remaining on a given track, an awkward, inadequate transition takes place and the beat switches up. A mid-beat alteration does not need to be smooth (a handful of moments on Yeezus can attest to that). Here, though, such shifts feel amateurish, and a stylistic choice likely intended to add character to the record instead suggests a formulaic, uninspired approach.
Altogether, little dynamic factors exist on The Beauty In All. A bland album is not always an awful one, at least not in this instance, but the times during which listening to this project will seem worthwhile are limited. Despite being a collective of relatively monotonic, non-surprising beats, there are several highlights which encompass the previously noted common forms and musical components found on other tracks in a fuller, more layered way (Listen: “After Thoughts”, “No Rules For Kings”, and the closing “Fork In The Road”). Interestingly enough, The Beauty In All is accompanied by a free, thirteen song mixtape entitled Tangible Dream. While created for differing purposes, Dream is actually a far more entertaining and superior project. Greater production palettes and Oddisee’s fantastic rapping will retain your interest, two characteristics that the album itself might have benefited from.