For the majority of his career, nightclub and strip club music has been Don Toliver’s bread and butter. From his breakout single “After Party” to his latest “Leave the Club,” Toliver has made a name for himself in the industry as a young talent that can easily churn out trap psychedelic sounds that can fill a whole club set. However, he takes things in a slightly different direction on his third full length project Love Sick. The Jackboys affiliate continues his run of curating intoxicating, sexy, and fun yet unremarkable music.
Opener “LoveSickness” fails at setting the tone as it’s a lazy attempt at creating a whirlpool of sounds that are meant to pull the listener into Toliver’s mind as relationship drama consumes his world, but ultimately don’t quite hit because of overproduced drums and sluggish guitars. Second track “Let Her Go” highlights most of what goes wrong on Love Sick. Here and on tracks like “Leave the Club,” listeners endure minutes of Toliver relying heavily on synthesizers and overzealous trap drums that are supposed to complement his acrobatic singing, but never quite sticks the landing. Mixed in with misplaced or underutilized features like James Blake, GloRilla, and Lil Durk both tracks stall the potential of the album.
Like many new acts, Toliver invokes early 2000s nostalgia with a sample of Beanie Man and Mya’s “Girls Dem Sugar” on “4 Me.” The use of the reggae fusion song sounds awkward as it loses some of its soul and flirtatious edge when producers Wheezy and MyGuyMars chopped it up for Toliver and Kali Uchis to croon to each other over.
The album gains momentum with love song “Go Down,” Kaytranada-produced “Honeymoon” and Charlie Wilson-assisted “If I Had.” All three songs accentuate Toliver’s charisma and vocal timbre in a seductive way as he sings out sometimes graphic imagery of sex, longing, and toxic connections.
The highlights on the second half of Love Sick include “Company Pt. 3,” which sounds like Toliver continues to build on “Company” 1 and 2 with a sexy bass and melodic guitar strings that pull his yearning for some companionship together neatly. The Tik Tok-ready “Bus Stop,” featuring Brent Faiyaz, is the star of the whole album. The jersey club-inspired beat of the first half of the song is for sure to be an earworm this summer. The more atmospheric second half sets the perfect stage for Faiyaz’s voice to rise from the mist as he delivers an impassioned performance.
On the last song “Encouragement” Toliver takes a crack at the victorious album closer with some shout outs to his girl, mentor, and naturally, himself. Unfortunately, it’s mostly forgettable with a weak chorus that finds Toliver repeating “I never, ever felt like this” over and over, painting and uninspired portrait of his life.
At a time when albums like Her Loss and singles like “Munch” and “FNF” exist, the Houston native takes a stab at what most other rap acts are avoiding right now: sing- rapping about love and all the emotions that come with it – trust, betrayal, and letting go. Unlike past work, Toliver attempts to expand his repertoire of content by diving a little deeper beneath the surface. Even with help from his in real life girlfriend Uchis, Justin Bieber, Future, and Wilson, the LP comes up short in delivering songs that standout amongst his peers. For the most part, Love Sick isn’t going to move the needle for Toliver. Those that were fans before will like this, while others that are apprehensive about him probably won’t start liking him now.
Don Toliver’s Love Sick album is going triple 💿 in my phone
— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) March 9, 2023
Don toliver got Future on the new love sick album 🔥🔥
— toxic king (@777jorgeivan) February 24, 2023
Omo don Toliver’s love sick is a fire project cl
— OLAOLUVADER. (@M00NB0Y_) March 15, 2023