Nine years in the making, Bilal’s sophomore effort not only embodies its author’s musical innovations, but also reflects its own tortured birthing process. Conceived in the fallout of Bilal’s unreleased Love for Sale project in 2004, Airtight’s Revenge is the offspring of label hassles, creative frustrations and mounting pressures. Rather than letting those pressures impede on his vision, Bilal used them to fuel his fire. Airtight’s Revenge is paranoid and fractured — the perfect commentary on Bilal’s struggles over the past five years. It would have been easy for him to make another smooth neo-soul album. Instead, his sophomore effort subverts the audience’s expectations and refracts the whole notion of buttery R&B. That’s not to say it isn’t a pleasure to listen to. Bilal is as gentle and seductive as ever, but his rhythms and arrangements are unnerving, and darkly delirious. These songs draw as much from Autechre and Broadcast as they do Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Airtight’s Revenge is not just another R&B outing — this collection of songs will reveal new dreams and secrets over the course of repeated listenings.