Eminem's fourth album offers few surprises, but still enough pleasures to carry the day. As evinced by Em's pre-election, pro-voting "Mosh," this is not exactly the same Eminem who seemingly crapped on anything and everything. Encore
finds a surprisingly mature Eminem waxing reflective about his battle with Benzino ("Like Toy Soldiers") rather than unloading both barrels. However, it's not all elder statesmanship: "Puke" goes after his ex-wife Kim with incredible scorn, and "Big Weenie" brings the familiar juvenile humor that made him famous. If Encore
has a clear weakness, it's the bland production--the same plodding sound that he and Dr. Dre cooked up on the previous three albums. The exotic flavor of "Ass Like That" catches the ear, but many others run off the same monotonous minor-key melodies and tempos. Of course, people buy Eminem albums to hear him spit first and foremost, and, in that regard, few fans will be disappointed by Encore
; it'd just be nice to see him switch up his sound at some point. --Oliver Wang
THIS TWO DISC SET INCLUDES BONUS CD WITH THREE PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED SONGS.