Published May 09, 2018Four years on from delivering their first hits, the evolution of Rae Sremmurd as a unit has been undeniable. Swae Lee's flighty vocals and attention to melody have grown to serve as a perfect complement to Slim Jxmmi's more boisterous, boastful bars, leading singles like "Black Beatles" and "Look Alive" to platinum status.
Not unlike a wildly popular trio in their orbit, much has been made about the possibility of each Sremmurd brother striking out solo. Fittingly enough, their third LP, SR3MM, arrives as a three-disc affair, packaging individual efforts Swaecation and Jxmtro alongside a proper group album. All three discs feature nine tracks, with none clocking over a 40-minute runtime, beating the streaming-induced bloat that has bogged down recent releases from some of their peers.
SR3MM's titular disc leaves little doubt that the two brothers work best in tandem, highlighted by "Close" and "Powerglide" juxtaposing Swae's rangy vocals against rapid delivery from Jxmmi. The pair's massive hit "Black Beatles" finds something of a spiritual successor in "Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame," with a wonderfully messy beat employing staccato strings, guitar solos and hits of bubbling synths. This disc doesn't carry surprise so much as consistency, with early singles "Perplexing Pegasus" and "T'D Up" channelling their earlier work over darker production.
Like the title Swaecation implies, free and easy feelings are conjured by Swae's deeper melodic dive into R&B-leaning production. However, his blissed-out approach can at times get the better of him. "Heartbreak in Encino Hills" rarely breaks from having his vocals mimic the track's jangly guitars, which wears thin over four minutes. Both the plodding comedown of "Lost Angels" and the punchy "What's In Your Heart?" could be better served by stronger songwriting.
Swaecation's jewel is the one-two punch of "Offshore" and "Guatemala." The former stars Young Thug floating atop airy production, rhyming off his stable of luxury cars and dreams of slapping Donald Trump upside the head, while the latter brings Swae back to familiar dancehall territory he succeeded in exploring on French Montana's "Unforgettable."
Jxmtro is a less adventurous outing by those standards, but Jxmmi shows marked improvement in his own technique with the flow changes of "Brxnks Truck" and the luxurious lilt of his verse on Zoë Kravitz team-up "Anti-Social Smokers Club." Diversifying his delivery pays off best on the Pharrell-assisted "Chanel," coolly sliding through Mike WiLL Made-It's unsettling chords.
At this stage, both brothers realize they work better together, though SR3MM's unique format allows for a distinct look at the two very different parts of what make Rae Sremmurd tick. (Interscope)