Travie McCoy, "Lazarus"

77 Billboard Rating

Relaxation, nostalgia, partying and acceptance. Such are the four stages of Gym Class Heroes frontman Travie McCoy's dynamic solo debut, "Lazarus." The 10-track album's inclusion of reggae-influenced beats and dance jams may polarize listeners, but its snappy wordplay and deep introspection will appeal to a wide demographic of music lovers. The track "Need You" showcases McCoy's lyrical finesse ("Call up the locksmith/Tell him we need him quick/We got a million keys/None of them seem to fit"), but he does best when exhibiting raw emotion. "Akidagain" incorporates children chanting over bittersweet piano, and the organ-laden closer "Don't Pretend" seems to reference the singer's ex-flame Katy Perry. He's most vulnerable on the latter, where he says amid kisses and sniffles, "Open up my chest/You'll see a cold cavity where my heart used to be." Fans might love or detest campy dance anthems like "After Midnight," but the relatable themes--as heard on "The Manual," a track about self-acceptance--will appeal to all. --Melanie Bertoldi