Apparently, Spokane, Washingtons James Pantsthe hyperkinetic beatmaker and latest Stones Throw personality experimentfirst landed an internship with Peanut Butter Wolfs L.A. label after approaching Wolf at a rave that Pants attended immediately after his own prom. (He even brought his date.) Its fitting, then, that Welcome plays like that special nights hotel-room follow-up: Pants whips out his bag o tricks (and ill-advisedly tries a few more hes only read about) in an enthusiastic but awkward attempt at seduction. The result is impressive genre prowessespecially when he invites Austin unknown Deon Davis (a/k/a Element 7d) to contribute some post-rap boogie on Crystal Lite, or rips off Whams Everything She Wants on I Choose Youbut Pants might still be flexing prematurely.
Indeed, after a strong first act culminating with the electric Slip N Slide of Cosmic Rapp, Welcome hits a long stretch of deadly sameness. From the Bronx-flavored tribal-wave Were Through to the interstitial rainbow abstractions of Prayers of the People, Pantss experimentation succumbs to bland self-indulgence and cheesy sound effects (a bombs whistle-and-boom, a lawnmower starting, etc.). The big beat of Finger on the Knife wakes up the proceedings in time for a brisk outro run (not coincidentally bringing Deon Davis back into the foldthe two have an undeniable chemistry) that finds its focus within a certain bombastic keys-and-breaks swagger.
Pants plays every instrument on Welcome, and his giddiness pays off with wide-grin surprises, as in the unexpected wah-wah hops of Good Things. But Stones Throws business model lately has rightly focused more on the rosters unique personas Guilty Simpsons slacker-rap myth-building has been handled thus far with elegant savvyand Pants needs to find himself quickly. Prom night is long gone.