Unmeasurable quantities of envy-inspiring food have thickened his already stout frame, and the artist rubs shoulders with culinary superstars like Michael White and Mario Batali.
Action Bronson’s recent full-length album “Mr. Wonderful” is the result of a different, non-caloric type of indulgence. In this latest album, we’re hearing Bronson the rock star. He crams a lot of pitchy, ill-advised hooks among guitar solos and instrumental interludes. He also seems to have cut back on the food references, maybe to prove that they aren’t integral to his identity.
Bronson’s background as a chef manages to shine through regardless. Whether by accident or design, “Mr. Wonderful” is served in three courses. In keeping with this structure, I’ve put together three courses of my own. The meal is modeled after “Mr Wonderful” itself, though, so be warned– heartburn is probably inevitable. The album’s first course consists of five tracks, “Brand New Car” through “Falconry,” and is the closest to what one might have expected from pre-“Saaab Stories” Bronson.
It’s boisterous and exuberant New York rap. Only when the dreamily woozy “Terry” transitions via its extended outro into the polished magnetic synths of “Actin’ Crazy” does the listener begin to suspect that there is something different about this project. UVM students might consider pairing this segment of “Mr. Wonderful” with the Scibek Sizzler, a hefty bacon cheeseburger served at The Shopping Bag in Burlington’s North End.
This sandwich, like Bronson, has attracted both a cult following and national acclaim. It would also be just the thing to sustain Bronson’s “cousin” Big Body Bes at “3:36 in the morning, in a drug-infested area…[while he is] standing on an unidentified corner,” as in the Meyhem Lauren-aided cut “Falconry.” The second course, titled “Thug Love Story 2017 The Musical,” comes in four parts. There’s an a cappella love song, apparently sung outside Katz’s deli; there’s a blues song, too, and a long, contemplative piano track.
The most engaging part is “Baby Blue,” a bouncy “told-you-so” track addressed to an unnamed ex-girlfriend and bolstered by Chance the Rapper. This part goes best with something like the duck confit poutine at Leunig’s Bistro, which can and should be topped with seared foie gras. Course three hits the spot with a semi-substantial offering of four tracks that feels almost like a victory lap. With a focus on rap delivery and some of the album’s best boasts, such as “I could walk under ladders, still win the lotto, ten minutes flat, built a boat in a bottle.”
It culminates in the cinematic single, “Easy Rider,” which samples Turkish rock and contains as many quotable lines as the rest of “Mr. Wonderful” put together. Think of that track as the white Hawaiian ginger in a cold-pressed, carrot-based blend from Burlington’s Tomgirl Juice Company. Their green juices are just as vivacious, and a jar of either along with this last segment will renew your taste buds and keep you looking forward to Bronson’s next project.