“Time has passed, I hope that nothing has changed,” Jahron Brathwaite (PARTYNEXTDOOR) croons on “High Hopes” the opening track on PARTYNEXTDOOR3. PND is right, nothing has changed. Since the Mississauga-born singer signed to Drake’s OVO Sound imprint in 2013 it has been more of the same.
Listeners can find Brathwaite exactly where he left off with his first release PARTYNEXTDOOR. Stuck in limbo. Where PND 1 & 2 were refreshing and sonically thrilling, PND3 comes across as unoriginal. He is still torn between being emotionally involved and detached, unsure of whether he loves a woman or the allure of nightlife and the celebrity perks that come with it. These themes were exciting the first few times but on PARTYNEXTDOOR3 they showcase how weak OVO is as a label. The OVO duo Majid Jordan and Roy Wood$, and now Brathwaite, are instruments at Drake’s disposal, called upon when needed and stuck making the same songs repeatedly.
The production on PND3 would have garnered endless praise if it was 2013. But in 2016 the heavy bass paired with sultry synths, quiet keys and soft background vocals that have become a staple of the OVO label’s sound fall flat. The sounds associated with PND, The Weeknd and other OVO acts have become readily available across Soundcloud and Bandcamp. They are less of a novelty and more of the norm.
Wordplay has also never been Brathwaite’s strong suit and PND3 serves as a testament to that. On the second song of the album “Don’t Run” he begins with the unimaginative, “You’s a vegan but you going HAM.” On “Problems & Selfless” he touches on his “problems,” that two beautiful women are fighting over him. Seconds later he is singing about the attempted suicide of his on and off again girlfriend Kehlani and how “selfless” he was throughout, while others called him selfish. The pairing of his problems with Kehlani’s comes off as insensitive and inappropriate, almost as though he’s downplaying her attempted suicide.
The album’s saving grace comes in the form of the previously released single “Come and See Me” featuring Drake. Production from Noah “40” Shebib and a solid verse and chorus from Drake create the mood that Braithwaite seems to be reaching for throughout the project, and failing to achieve. “Come and See Me” defines who Brathwaite is: an artist trying to find love and affection but getting lost in a sea of one without the other. The other bright spot on the album is the first song, “High Hopes.” Brathwaite raps in a rough voice that he doesn’t use all too often. Unfortunately, this is the only time on the project where he switches things up.
Coming up in a niche genre that has since become oversaturated, Brathwaite has already proven he can hold his own, but not for 16 songs. PND3 makes it apparent that there might not be much left for PARTYNEXTDOOR.
Listen to the album on Apple Music