The dominant mode for Anderson .Paak’s work thus far has been one of warmth. Part of that probably has to do with his fondness for all things SoCal (where he hails), another is his gritty but soulful voice, another still is the production he’s chosen to flow over which often hews toward lightly rumbling bass and svelte drum beats. Together those elements are enough to make a frigid winter day seem a lot less cold, something his 2016 record Malibu did when it dropped in January.
While not quite as cold as a January day in the Midwest, Anderson .Paak’s return effort “Automatic” isn’t marked by the same warmth that made Malibu such a pleasant surprise. A lot of that has to with Ta-Ku’s production which works in that rumbling bass and some twinkles of Fender Rhodes keys but also makes room for a vocal that’s nearly disembodied and robotic. Not that any of that makes “Automatic” any less exciting than what .Paak’s done before. In fact, hearing him in slightly strange environs helps make the work even more invigorating. That and his flow which is still as pure and unadulterated ever. No matter what the backing that’s always gonna come through.