A N N I V E R S A R Y (Deluxe)
That Bryson Tiller's A N N I V E R S A R Y got a release right as the Northern Hemisphere was easing into autumn feels fortuitous. The singer's third album, chilly and atmospheric, is ready-made for cool weather and the way the seasonal shift often brings relationships to the fore; its songs envelop the push-pull of romance and the mindsets that lead to ecstasy and turmoil in turns. Lead singles “Always Forever” and “Inhale” prefigured the mood, the nostalgic desire captured in their lyrics setting the mood that lingers throughout. Tiller, true to the style of the day, toes the perpetually blurry line between singing and rapping, with songs like “Things Change” and “Timeless Interlude” leaning towards the latter and “Sorrows” and “Next to You” towards the former. His depictions of romance also exist in infinite shades of gray, shifting from sexy come-ons to scornful kiss-offs, sometimes within the span of a single track. These kinds of middle grounds remain a powerful tool in his arsenal: When he and Drake (who shares a similar propensity for messy courtship) sing, “I still don't know why I still play into your palm/Even though I know what you want/I been twisted off you for so long,” as they do on “Outta Time,” it drives home the tension that makes their music so compelling. With each ego-stunted confession, Tiller reminds us that life and love happen not at the highest highs or the lowest lows but always somewhere in the possibilities of limbo. The deluxe edition builds on the original, adding five tracks of wounded confessions that hinge on throwback nostalgia and lush musicality. Samples abound on “Still Yours” and “Timeless Interlude Pt. II,” while a song like “7:00” envelops listeners in Tiller’s atmospherics. “I think [‘7:00’] shows off my love for harmonies and how much better I’ve gotten at putting them together,” Tiller tells Apple Music. “The thing I remember most about making this song was reminding myself to not be lazy and to add as many layers as I possibly could.” Each new addition further cements the singer’s proclivity for bringing the past to the present, and, ultimately, isn’t that the root of so much romantic strife?