Apathy is comfortably in the pocket on Where the River Meets the Sea, his seventh studio album. The biggest standout on first listen is Apathy’s pristine vocal clarity. While the boom bap production is a little shallow at times, Apathy’s voice is firmly placed in the center of the experience- never wavering. It’s in this comfortable space, nearly thirty years into his career, that Chad Bromley explores the abstract nature of the ocean. Although this theme gets dropped a few times, the cohesive packaging allows plenty of room to flex his vocal capabilities. It’s just the frequently uneven pacing that holds the record back from being pristine. The issue isn’t the rhymes, it’s how the space between the verses is used. Multiple interludes and challenging hooks keep this prize vessel perpetually docked at harbor.
The guestlist is rather impressive, as Apathy flanks himself with new voices and familiar friends. Their clever takes on the nautical theme add a great bit of variety on this concise 45-minute record. Chris Webby is a noteworthy highlight on “Underwater.” His razor-sharp delivery is a choice pairing with Apathy’s slightly slower finesse. The chorus here, like on other tracks, takes some getting used to. As this issue stacks up, the album starts to feel much longer than it actually is. The frivolous cuts of “We Don’t Fuck Around” and “P.S.E. feat Styles P and Lil Flame” steal a lot of momentum from the fantastic latter half of the album. The crisp drums on “River of Light” and the sheer glory of “Dream Sequence feat. Snak the Ripper & Bennet” show up way too late on the track list. The vivid songwriting is spoiled by aimless curation and frequent stops to admire the poetic words of Carl Sagan. Also, the contemplative latter half is oddly blemished with “Mermaid Music”.
The sentiment at the center of Where the River Meets the Sea is a solid one. Apathy is determined to carry the torch of the golden era into the future. His good intentions, however, are oddly distributed over the 14-tracks that all drag their feet in one way or the other. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull feat. Brevi” is an early standout with some of the brightest production on the album. Yet, placing dialogue at the beginning and the end feels excessive and discourages frequent listens.