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MC Paul Barman‘s latest albumshould probably include CliffsNotes. You can’t just pop in Thought Balloon Mushroom Cloud and understand it after a few listens, writes Ben Westhoff in this week’s City Paper. The record is a dense, complicated, “mature magnum opus, a startlingly sober, not-at-all-horny work focused on education, politics, and word tricks.” Westhoff writes:

Barman’s still all over the place with his rhymes, tackling and then quickly discarding a flurry of subjects, rhyming so fast you sometimes have no idea what he’s saying, and punning like it hadn’t gone out of style long ago. But there’s also a gravity absent from his previous work. For starters, marital bliss appears to have freed him from the burden of coming up with words that rhyme with labia. It also helps that his voice seems to have dropped an octave, and he’s in somewhat better command of his rhymes; while they still don’t always sync up with the beat, he usually seems to be performing them that way on purpose.

Read the full review here.