I still have a bullshit internet connection and I’m posting this from work in between answering a million phone calls so it’s a little scattered. My friend got the new Missy album and I got to listen to it once or twice so this is just my immediate reaction.
Basically – it’s good. Not as good as Miss E and not as good as Da Real World but certainly not bad. It is all very much Missy’s vision, which means lots of hot shit and the occasional overbaked old-school tribute song. Only two tracks have Timbaland, “Joy” with Mike Jones and “Party Time,” both of which are better than most recent Timbaland joints. “Joy”‘s shifting multi-movement banger makes me appreciate Mike Jones more, too, and reminds me of Timbaland in “Come and Get Me” prog-hop mode, conducting each movement. I’m glad that Missy’s steered clear of Timbo for most of the album, though. Her last release was clearly her worst, despite the brilliant should-have-been single “Fix my Weave.” This seems like a much more refreshingly Missy-In-Charge album, not because she says so (like her last album) but because it sounds like it.
Worst mis-step is not the ballads like everyone says, ignore these people! Not that I like these Missy ballads all that much compared to her best ones (clearly those on Supa Dupa Fly), but the worst track is without a doubt the Apache “tribute.” Where “Lose Control” is a hype reworking of Cybotron, “We Run This” is anemic, and worse, unneccessary. We already have one “Apache,” the reason I like “Made U Look” is because (like a million other songs before it) it looped familiar drums and totally adjusted the original mood of the track, referencing the old-school shit subtly, rather than over-the-top “remember when…?” The best Missy ‘old school’ tributes were subtle references, new songs that hit the best touchpoints of a period without significantly aping the music itself; in other words, it went for old school feeling rather than recreating old school songs. Like “Old School Joint” on Miss E which is a transcendent disco thump filtered through Timbo’s contrasting high-end cyberwashes and a rattling bass that sounds just slightly off the beat. Or that one motorik sounding kraut jam near the end! Everything was coming from weird different directions, old school joints not compromsing because above all they were designed to make you dance.
That isn’t to say this more conservative direction is bad per se, it just makes this album less exciting, when the tracks can’t balance throwback and futurism well enough. Although the ratio of great to ehhhh is pretty good on the whole. I even like the joint with M.I.A., although Vybz Kartel clearly ran things on that shit. I’m feeling really good about this release, even when the old school nostalgia crops up a little too often; Grand Puba and Slick Rick both turn in good-enough guest verses. On the whole, The Cookbook is good, old school jams and all. All the same, ironically enough, I feel nostalgic for when Missy wasn’t.