Album Review: Juice WRLD's Death Race for Love
Even at first glimpse of the cover, it’s clear that Death Race for Love is not an encore to Juice WRLD’s debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance. Mimicking that of a video game cover, his sophomore album not only looks the part, but sounds it, too. While his first album was an ode to a break-up, dominated by strummy riffs and intermittent pianos, Death Race for Love is refined, focusing on “in-crowd” beats while being an almost potpourri of varying sounds.
Though it still has the dark undertones of Goodbye & Good Riddance, Death Race for Love sounds closer to a finished product rather than a mixtape, which isn’t to say the loose tone of his first album was a negative thing (it wasn’t).
Maybe that’s what’s missing for me with this album: the informal quality that defined Goodbye & Good Riddance simply isn’t there. Though Juice’s voice is still distinct in itself, the crackly strain on songs like “All Girls Are the Same” and “Long Gone” are mostly absent. If you’re looking for tracks similar to that of Goodbye & Good Riddance on this new album, “Flaws and Sins,” “Empty” and “Maze” are the way to go.
With the production more polished and mainstream on Juice’s new album, it’s clear that the industry has had an effect on him within the last year, as he even threw in a quick sample of Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” on the track, “Out My Way.” His lyrics have a greater focus on material items, and it seems like Juice has almost picked up on this himself with a line on “Fast”: “I’m the same dude I was back then, but now I’m lost and confused.”
A constant on both albums, however, is his dedication to short, clever lines like, “I don’t give a Hoover Dam,” and “Like a crawl space, this a dark place I roam.” Even Clever has a few witty lines on “Ring Ring” with, “I don’t feel like comin’ to the phone today, unless a Postmates comin’ on the way.”
Though “Fast” and “Robbery” are among the album’s most popular on the iTunes Hip-Hop charts, songs like “Feeling” and “Ring Ring (feat. Clever)” aren’t getting the notice they deserve. Despite being weirdly reminiscent of the track, “Why Did You Do That?” off the A Star Is Born soundtrack, “Feeling” is an energetic anthem with a catchy chorus, while “Ring Ring (feat. Clever) emanates a punk-rock aura with a classic Juice spin to it.
With 22 tracks, there are definitely a few that could have been left out, one being the deafening and furious “Syphilis,” which overall clashes with the smooth, techno feel of the rest of the album.
Highly-anticipated on the rap scene, Death Race for Love almost seemed like it would be a test for Juice WRLD, being that it would be his largest project thus far. Following a disappointing response to his collaboration with Future on their late 2018 mixtape, “WRLD on Drugs,” Death Race for Love proves that Juice is versatile, capable of success from his more casual days of Goodbye & Good Riddance to that of the more streamlined present.