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Bryson Tiller emerged in the music industry as a love-hungry 22-year-old, enthralled in the idea of winning someone’s heart, but naive to the things necessary to keep the heart he just obtained. His breakout hit “Don’t” was written from the perspective of a man who mistreated his partner, leaving her with the feeling of being undervalued and thus, seeking appreciation from outsiders. While he presents valiant efforts to literally right his wrongs to close out Trapsoul, it all proves to be too little too late. Exactly five years later, Bryson returns with his third album Anniversary, a project that aims to honor the success he relished with his 2015 debut, but one that also shows how his artistry developed in that last few years.
Anniversary presents moments where Trapsoul Bryson is a distant memory. The self-proclaimed Louisville slugger approaches life with a focus towards the long-term benefits rather than the short-term possibilities. Bryson conquers his fear of failure and makes his listeners aware of this mountain-top moment seconds into the album. “Worrying about or tryna figure out what they need to think or like it or not,” a voice says, speaking to Bryson on “Years Go By.” “Next thing you know, you ain’t gon’ wanna do this sh*t no more / But you really just gotta do you.” Tiller acknowledges the past three years he spent behind closed doors, looking for the right moment to emerge from his cave and return to his supporters who drilled him with tomatoes following his underwhelming 2017 effort, True To Self.
“I gave it my best and that’s exactly why I’m here,” he proclaims on “Keep Doing What You’re Doing.” The ill comments and sentiments of the past no longer matter to him and rightfully so. The confidence he once lost has returned and its newfound presence is sprinkled all throughout that very line. His earnings and accomplishments can’t and will not be diminished due to past failings. His late grandmother left him with the reminder to “keep doing what you’re doing,” something he reveals on the song, and Bryson returns with all intentions of doing exactly that.
Tiller’s Anniversary attempts to do just that, updating his Trapsoul repertoire with some of the same magic that captured his fans’ hearts in 2015. Hard-hitting production encloses the heartfelt qualms of his love life that he presents. He still displays his zealous approach to love, but nowadays, his endeavors in it no longer find him scrambling to repair his faults before the window of opportunity closes. Rather, he tries to convince his love interests of the enjoyable aspects of the pleasurable world he strives to bring them into. “Always Forever” floods listeners with frustrations from a man who gives it all to a woman not giving him enough while “Outta Time,” his long-awaited collaboration with Drake, finds him accessing the damage from a relationship he’s given so much to while asking the question: “Is it still worth it?” “I don’t know, know you, no, not anymore,” Bryson sings on his verse. “And I can’t wait ’til we find a way to part ways.”
Anniversary sports plenty of highlight moments. “Time To Change” is a celebratory offering that releases the energetic spirits Bryson holds within as a man who’s recognized his wrongs and returns to correct them. “You should see me now, I’m so different / I know you like to say I went distant,” he boasts. The album’s closer “Next To You” flaunts a lush sample of Flight Facilities’ “Heart Attack.” Just like Trapsoul’s “ Right My Wrongs,” Bryson ends Anniversary with a similar love-stricken message that keenly anticipates the moment of reconnection with a highly-desired partner. “I hate when you’re away from here,” he says longingly on the track. “So far away, countin’ the days, until you get here.”
Anniversary cleans up the rubble Bryson left behind with his sophomore album and celebrates his past successes while setting the scene to achieve even more in the future. Fans expected another monumental project to place beside Trapsoul with his return, but that’s not what Anniversary strives to do. It’s simply the ribbon-cutting ceremony that precedes what one can only hope is an upcoming stellar body of work. Bryson found his footing in the industry five years ago, and though he lost it for a short moment, the Louisville native returns the hope that it’s continued presence is a bit more permanent. It’s all he and his fans could hope for.
Anniversary is out now via RCA/Trapsoul. Get it here.