Somewhere inside Recovery is a pretty good album. But you have to dig through the bloat to get to it. Eminem’s seventh record is his relatively speedy reaction to last year’s Relapse, an album even Em wasn’t too pleased with. “Let’s be honest, that last Relapse CD was ehhh,” he raps in the single “Not Afraid.” “Perhaps I ran them accents into the ground.” No kidding. On Recovery, Eminem returns to his fighting stance, spitting in the barking cadences that made him a star a decade ago. He’s still the most uptight rapper on the planet, exposing his neuroses and grievances throughout. But his gripes this time are aimed as much inward as outward. It’s like one of his steps toward actual recovery is to own up to his mistakes. He still holds a grudge against his ex-wife, and he still tears through celebrities who piss him off for the tiniest reason. But the Eminem of Recovery mostly gets back to basics. The best cuts (“Talkin’ 2 Myself,” “Won’t Back Down,” “Love the Way You Lie”) are tough, twisty, and self-interested. Still, there’s a lot here. At 76 minutes, Recovery is at least 20 minutes too long. And all the coming clean gets a bit exhausting. But the healing process works both ways: Artist and fans are now a little bit closer to resolution.
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