It doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude IGOR is unmistakably a concept album, which is a good thing considering I’m no rocket scientist.
What’s the concept? Everyone, including our own Donna-Claire Chesman, believes the album is about a breakup, but that’s way too simple.
I have three far more interesting and completely inaccurate theories. Stay with me.
THEORY No. 1: IT’S DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO THE 2008 ANIMATED FILM IGOR
Tyler’s new album isn’t an isolated body of work; it functions exclusively as a direct companion piece to the long forgotten, Oscar™️ losing family film, Igor.
As we all know, the film is about Dr. Frankenstein’s hunchbacked sidekick and his journey to pursue a solo rap career. The song “RUNNING OUT OF TIME” represents Igor’s emotional journey living in Dr. Frankenstein’s shadow, “NEW MAGIC WAND” represents Igor finding his own voice and creating his own scientific inventions (i.e., a new magic wand.), and the closing track, “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS,” serves as an emotional climax, as our titular hero begs to remain friends with Dr. Frankenstein after abandoning his career as his trusty sidekick and embarking on his own worthwhile adventure.
Full disclosure: I have never seen the movie Igor and I forgot it existed until two days ago. So take this one with a grain of salt.
THEORY No. 2: IT’S AN ACADEMIC ANALYSIS OF “THE CATCHER IN THE RYE”
A literary classic gets a modern analysis, both as a standalone body of work and a larger look at its cultural impact.
The aggressive beat on opening track “IGOR’S THEME” is the sonic embodiment of Holden Caulfield’s inner turmoil and privileged bitterness, as his teen angst and resentment towards “phonies” continues to bubble up, just like how the beat quickly explodes into a catchy yet abrasive crescendo.
“A BOY IS A GUN” is a dark nod towards Mark David Chapman (the BOY who shot John Lennon with a GUN), who infamously cited JD Salinger’s magnum opus as what influenced him to do it. Goosebumps. “I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” powerfully represents how Caulfield both views himself and the world around him. “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS” is a ballad from Holden’s perspective directed at his little sister, who is the only person who brings him joy in this world and he is desperate to make sure he never loses his emotional connection with her.
I haven't read Catcher In The Rye since seventh grade.
THEORY No. 3: EACH TRACK REPRESENTS A DIFFERENT STAGE OF KEANU REEVES’ ACTING CAREER
This one is obvious. Tyler is a HUGE Keanu Reeves fan. He’s never specifically said so, but I know he is because we all are.
“IGOR’S THEME” is indicative of Keanu’s introduction into the pop culture canon with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, initially creating a “theme” of Keanu’s persona as a mellow surfer dudebro. “A BOY IS A GUN” is when we reach Keanu’s rebrand as a movie star (a BOY who frequently uses GUNS), which began with ‘91’s Point Break. “GONE GONE / THANK YOU” takes us to The Matrix, where Neo’s inaccurate perception of the universe is “gone gone” and he is “thankful” for learning the truth about how we are living in a simulation.
Finally, we arrive at “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS,” which is, of course, about John Wick. John’s dog gets murdered but even though his dog is gone in the physical sense, his spirit still comforts John. John thinks of his dead dog and wonders “are we still friends?”
The answer is yes. And it always will be.