The title Honestly, Nevermind pretty much sums it up: Drake’s seventh studio album is a contradictory, convoluted post-breakup ramble. The uncertainty of the record’s title reflects the feeling listeners may reserve for this body of this work — an inclination to disregard it.
It’s been a mere nine months since Drake released Certified Lover Boy, a series of trap-doused tracks showcasing Drake’s internal struggle of teetering between toxic masculinity and emotional vulnerability. While Certified Lover Boy garnered significant commercial success, breaking 2021 streaming records and securing the top spot on Billboard charts, the album received ample disapproval for Drake’s lack of evolution. Many critics characterized Certified Lover Boy as an uninspired, redundant contribution to the musician’s discography.
Honestly, Nevermind, which was only given a measly six hours of promotion before its release, feels like a direct response to this accusation. It marks an experimental leap for Drake, who has decided to detour from his hip hop comfort zone to dive into house and electronic dance.
Specifically, Drake’s decision to create an entire album inspired by house offers promise. A genre derived from club culture and disco, house has historically empowered Black and queer communities, and Drake’s homage consequently contributes to its popularization while simultaneously complementing his album with historical richness.
While Honestly, Nevermind brings refreshing change to the artist’s discography, it is not without substantial flaws. Gratingly repetitive and vocally insipid, the album fails to be much more than a sloppy hodgepodge of fast beats, romantic resentments and jumbled contradictions.
The vast majority of tracks depict a lover’s inability to move on. Although Drake attempts to convey the ambivalence and strife of processing a dissolving romantic endeavor, his lackluster lyricism results in poor execution. Instead of rich and nuanced, Honestly, Nevermind translates as whiny and confused.
In “Falling Back,” Drake confidently asserts that “I know you know how I feel.” Chaotically, Drake proceeds to accost his ex a few lines later with an acrid and inconsistent query: “How can you say that you know how I feel?” “Falling Back,” whiplash aside, feels structureless and devoid of color. Relying on the regurgitation of the same lazy lines and paired with a static, forgettable beat, the song plainly exemplifies the album’s overwhelming thoughtlessness.
Even hypocrisy plays a central role in Honestly, Nevermind. While “Falling Back” and “Overdrive” display Drake’s reluctance to conclude a relationship, he bashes other lovers for pining over him persistently in “Texts Go Green” and “A Keeper.” The artist thrives at throwing jabs yet struggles to exhibit any self-awareness, resulting in a mind-boggling, frustrating listening experience.
Despite its glaring faults, Honestly, Nevermind does have its occasional highlights. Track transitions often bleed beautifully into each other, creating a pleasantly seamless effect. Smoothness also stands out in “Overdrive,” in which Drake’s velvety belting demonstrates his voice’s potential.
While the record’s lyricism often withers, Drake shines in spite of it when he returns to his classic rapping. “Sticky” highlights this rap excellence with clarity and concision. Elsewhere, the dynamic “Calling My Name” pulsates perfectly. The beat dramatically shifts in the middle of the latter, and Drake’s vocals become filtered and distant as he repeats, “Your pussy is calling my name.” His voice deftly embeds itself within the beat, effectively working in tune with the instrumentals rather than merely co-existing with them.
Unfortunately, however, Honestly, Nevermind still disappoints overall. The lingering, squeaky beat throughout “Currents” detracts from the song’s sense of intimacy, and tacky strumming tarnishes the otherwise seductive “Tie that Binds” as an overtly artificial attempt at soaking the song in romance. Throughout the album, Drake’s voice fizzes out into a monotonous, expressionless afterthought tacked onto a recurring beat.
While Drake deserves praise for his willingness to experiment and change his musical direction, it appears he got lost on this new path. Moments of gleaming potential end up strangled by an absence of structure, resulting in an ultimate failure to create anything truly profound.