A fascinating public persona is not synonymous with fascinating musical output, and while West's attention-seeking behaviour may be grotesquely compelling, the manchild himself is not. He fancies himself a tortured artist, but his mixture of ego and self-loathing could not be more of a cliche. He thinks he's an aesthete, but his taste (porn stars, luxe signifiers of high/white society) is mundane. Moreover, his talents have severely deteriorated since his days as rap's golden boy producer. This album offers beats that retread past glories, and an emotional palette narrowed to a range roughly as wide as West's navel. His way with words is now at exactly the level one would expect from that crushingly obvious title. West flags up his own self-satisfied, laboured jokes in an increasingly nasal flow: he whinges, we cringe. A ludicrous roster of guests serves only to show off his contact book – or, in the case of Nicki Minaj's stunning cameo on Monster, completely upstage him. Sadly, it seems West couldn't get Taylor Swift to join him on Runaway's toast to the "douchebags" and the "assholes", a move that would have slightly redeemed this uninteresting echo chamber that maintains the steady downwards trajectory of West's albums.
Alex Macpherson is a freelance journalist who writes for The Guardian, New Statesman, Metro, Fact and Attitude. He distracts himself by checking tennis results, attending street dance classes and trawling for new music in the name of research