Even if Run-D.M.C. designed the perfect blueprint some 25 years earlier, music labeled "rock-rap" had produced so many awful moments that when Kid Cudi's rock project WZRD arrived in 2012, open ears were hard to find. Pre-judged as some kind of emo-Nickelback cash-in or cred-builder with "Day 'n' Nite" producer Dot da Genius along for the ride, WZRD, the album, is sort of emo, sort of dream pop, and surely an indulgent effort that surprises with its chemistry and willingness to follow the music. That last bit is a surprise due to the Kid's usual desire to put it all on the table, but here, his soul-searching is tempered with jumpy college rock beats and long, guitar-filled outros that touch the freedom of stoner rock where notes are allowed all the sustain they require. John Carpenter soundtracks and some bedroom strain of Krautrock collide on the bombastic "The Arrival," and "Teleport 2 Me" is a beautiful way to drift with synths expanding and disappearing like those billows of Indo smoke Cudi used to love. "I am feeling the rush/Taking hits up off experience" he reveals on the sober highlight "High on Life," a reassuring moment for skeptics as this supposed ego-driven supernova rejoices with "There's so much I haven't seen," transitioning his isolationist Lonely Stoner persona into something more humble, more open. This is much more developed than the way "Efflictim" arrives at "I'm just saying that life is too short" by way of teen angst ("How would you feel if you heard the news/That I was dead/What would you do if you found out from your friends/I was dead"), and the so-faux roadhouse blues of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" is B-side worthy but slows this album to a crawl. Cudi fans can hook their Tech N9ne friends with the cartoonish therapy session called "Dr. Pill," but these misfires are grouped together, and when hacked off, reveal an inspired EP by a bona fide, give-and-take, rock-rap group.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries