There is a strange law about listening to certain albums that they can go from being one's most ignored and hated to belonging to one's favourites. Encore, even more so than Relapse, is an album that took me a long time to appreciate; for a long time I found it filler-infested, psychopathic in its lyrical content, musical minimalism and robotic beats, and basically a below par affair. Now, along with the unpopular Relapse, I find it addictive and compelling. It truly is an addictive, fascinating album and is highly pop-savvy. Em is clearly not sober on much of this album; he doesn't even sound angry like on The Eminem Show, he just sounds tired, cynical and whimsical. But that's what makes this album fascinating; despite failing on so many counts musically, lyrically and emotionally, it grew on me to such an extent that on Media player no track got less than four stars, even tracks like Puke, My 1st Single and Big Weenie. Eminem truly is a fascinating artist and to put out an album like takes a certain... strength or perhaps absence of character. In some sense this album is deceptive; it may seem robotic and stupid to begin with, but with time I came to realize that it is tight, funny and emotionally quite complex - I know this sounds like I'm getting ahead of myself, but tracks like Yellow Brick Road really have a dark complexity to them.
I'll cut this short by saying that if you think Eminem lost his way with this album (as he has himself admitted in public) then think again - perhaps the day will come like it did for me me when the tone of the album just "clicked" and suddenly I was able to enjoy, yes, enjoy, the over an hour long record.
PS. Get the two-disc version! The bonus three tracks are really very good and could happily sit on the album proper.
Five stars (I love it)