Critiquing “Eternal Atake” is somewhat complicated.
In a way, we’re looking at a time capsule. There’s been talk of Lil Uzi Vert releasing an album with this title for nearly two years, the delay largely owed to complications with his label. The fairest way to consume this album is with no expectations for boundary-pushing or reinvention — neither appear on “Eternal Atake.”
Lil Uzi Vert is best known for grand, anthemic emo-rap bangers in which he mixes intense trap production with catchy melodies and sly, high-speed flows. This is where he thrives, not only artistically but commercially — 2017’s “XO Tour Llif3” is a perfect example of those factors. “Eternal Atake,” however, has no shortage of high-speed rapping from Uzi, but does have a striking lack of melody the majority of its runtime.
To a certain point, “Eternal Atake” is an unconvincing concept album. Lil Uzi took the time to record spoken lines to conclude a handful of the songs, which are almost exclusively him muttering some combination of “what?” and “I just need to press this button.” If there’s a story here it’s not significant, and if these vocal snippets are there to create an atmosphere, their efficacy is questionable.
The strongest portion of the album is the first couple of songs “Baby Pluto” and “Lo Mein” flow well with one another. The album’s most energetic moments appear in their choruses. This is not a lyrical album, but the lyrics take several successful stabs at wit.
“Silly Watch” offers a considerably harder flow while “Homecoming” is the grooviest of the bunch, featuring Uzi agily riding the beat in his verses over a stomping bass-808 combo. “I’m Sorry” not only has excellent bits of melody the rest of the tracks sorely lack, but also a more fluid, elastic beat reminiscent of an underwater 8-bit track. The bonus tracks, “Futsal Shuffle 2020” and “That Way,” were immensely enjoyable as singles, and I was hopeful their melodic flows were an omen for the album. Unfortunately, this is not so.
As far as the album’s misses, it soon becomes mind-numbingly repetitive and too minimal in the styling of its beats. “POP” is the most notable example due to its mantra monosyllabic, while “You Better Move” stands out due to the sheer volume of the “balenci, balenci, balenci…” verse. Had more interesting production been behind moments like this, we could excuse his vocals as merely tertiary to the music. As it stands they are given a spotlight they simply don’t have the salt to be worthy of.
Perhaps more damning is the tracks from “Celebration Station” to “Bust Me,” which range from decent at best to entirely forgettable. This is criminal on an album featuring 18 tracks and just over an hour of music.
“Prices” has what is potentially the best opening production on the album, and unfortunately it doesn’t even truly belong to Lil Uzi Vert. The sample from “way back” off of Travis Scott’s sophomore album is gorgeous, but Uzi’s failure to feature or allude to Travis Scott in the song casts a poor light on the use of the sample. There is no reason to listen to this song over the original.
Concluding the album is a song titled “P2,” a thematic and musical follow-up to the aforementioned “XO Tour Llif3,” with melodic portions identical and the lyrics mirroring those of the original song. However, there’s not the same level of passion or ingenuity to “P2,” and nothing as memorable throughout.
Lil Uzi Vert is among a slew of hip hop artists claimed as one of the modern rockstars. “Eternal Atake” is no such seminal album. As the years pass, Uzi draws nearer to leaving us with one true hit in “XO Tour Llif3.” There may be potential for greatness from him, but for now he exists in an ever-fleeting gray area in which he more often misses than wins.