Kanye West’s newest album The Life of Pablo is a bizarre, manic, fragmented musical document with a lot of moments both inspired and disappointing. I haven’t come close to formalizing my thoughts on the album as a whole, but one track in particular stands out for me.
‘FML’ is the bleakest song on the album (and this album has some pretty dark moments). It features Kanye rapping about what sounds like a manic episode. He makes reference to the anti-depressant Lexapro and and rattles off a laundry list of woes and concerns. Shadowy synthesizers warp around his voice, with only vague snares here and there to remind you that it is, in fact, a hip hop song.
It sounds like something off 808s and Heartbreak, but it replaces that album’s self-pity with self-loathing. It’s possibly the darkest corner of Kanye’s mind he’s let us glimpse yet.
A rending hook from the Weeknd helps bring the song’s themes of self-destruction home – indeed, the Weeknd might be pop music’s favourite self-immolator of the moment.
The song’s outro, though, is where it gets really interesting. A distorted sample of Section 25’s sombre ‘Hit’ implores the listener to “see through the veil” while Kanye’s voice freefalls around it. It’s twisted rock, something that would be completely at home on Kid A. And possibly the weirdest sample on a Kanye record, which is saying something.
Ultimately, it reminds us of one of the dichotomies that makes Kanye so interesting: the dude’s got a lot of enemies, but none is so venomous as Yeezus himself.