Don Toliver’s “Love Sick” Croons of Heartache But Not Much Else


I never would’ve considered myself a fan of Don Toliver. When he was coming up in 2020, I didn’t think he was anything other than a wannabe Travis Scott. His first two albums, “Heaven or Hell” and “Life of a Don,” didn’t do much for me as most of his singing, melodic rapping, and beat selection was nothing short of an “Astroworldrip-off. After hearing Toliver’s contributions to the new Metro Boomin record “Heroes & Villains,” I began to think this guy might have something up his sleeve.

Toliver’s third studio album, “Love Sick,” dropped February 24 with three preceding singles. Lead single “Do It Right” is nothing new for Toliver, but “Leave the Club” and “4 Me” bring more variety. The latter features guest vocals from modern R&B favorite Kali Uchis, while the former features a beat-switch and more adventurous production from James Blake, who also handles production and lends some guest vocals on “Let Her Go,” which officially starts up the album after intro song “LoveSickness.” Both do a great job of hooking the listener in with lyrical themes of love and heartbreak as well as grand, cinematic production.

In the first half of the album, we get the trio “Go Down,” “Time Heals All,” and “Leather Coat.” “Go Down” is my favorite of the three, with Toliver singing a hook reminiscent of a 2018 Post Malone song while the outro changes into something completely different as guest TisaKorean’s refrain sounds like something out of Brockhampton’s back catalog. The latter two are fine songs as well but feel like background noise when compared to the rest of the album. 

The last song on the first half of the record, “Honeymoon,” is a personal favorite of mine as it features one of the more bouncy and exciting beats of the entire project. Produced by electronic musician Kaytranada, this track finds Toliver doing, what sounds to me like, his best Anderson .Paak impression.

The second half of the album has a bit of a rocky start with “Private Landing,” which seems like a ploy for streaming revenue rather than a cohesive song. Toliver does fine on the track himself, but when you have Future spitting bars about girls with “pretty feet” and Justin Bieber sounding like he’s asleep half the time, it’s a bit of a slog to get through. 

Luckily things pick back up after that. “Slow Motion” and “Company Pt. 3” are fun bops and do a good job with carrying the album’s overall narrative forward. “If I Had” sounds like something Charlie Wilson would’ve written in the 1960s or 70s, which is a bit ironic as Wilson himself is featured on this very track. “Bus Stop,” on the other hand, is similar to “Honeymoon” as the beat is more energetic and features a great sample of Blackstreet’s “I Can’t Get You (Out of My Mind).” It also features a gorgeous, down-tempo outro by another modern R&B star, Brent Faiyaz.

The final two tracks are some of the most low-key moments on the entire LP, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get the job done. “Cinderella” is home to some of my favorite lyrics on the entire album.“Encouragement” is a fine closer as well, tying up the album’s themes of heartache and Toliver doing some self-reflection in the process.

This album isn’t perfect but I do think it is a step in the right direction for Toliver discovering his own distinct sound and stepping ever-so-slightly out of Scott’s shadow. If Toliver is able to experiment more, keep a consistent theme and message like he did, and cut down a bit on the length, I think he could be onto something really special.