Having already found success with contemporaries like Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Erykah Badu, and Snoop Dogg, bass virtuoso Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner continues to take seismic steps forward in his development as a front man.

His debut The Golden Age of Apocalypse was a snapshot of what he could do. It was largely instrumental with a thoughtful combination of Herbie Hanckock inspired jazz fusion with a little Musiq Soulchild, Madlib and Ron Carter thrown in for good measure.

It was a project that tapped the potential of a phenom who regularly cites Dragonballl Z and of course Thundercats as driving influences. Thin on lyrics, Golden Age was an avenue in which Bruner could finally step out into the spotlight. Tentative at first, but revealing nonetheless: [LISTEN]

Seasons blow away, but the love is just the same
Each time you go away, but the love won’t let me stay
Each time you go away, but the love won’t hurt today
Seasons blow away, but the love still hurts the same

His newest album Apocalypse (Brainfeeder; June 4) takes his songwriting to another level. It’s much more loose and relaxed, and as the album goes on Bruner’s vocals only get stronger. Unlike before he’s able to give words to ideas and emotions where there once were none. He’s allowing his lyrics to tell the story as opposed to relying solely on his bass: [LISTEN]

Listen with your heart and see through all of your fears
Open up your world
That’s just yours cause life just seems so short
But if you play the game you can win in the end

Bruner also makes it a point not to take himself too seriously. The instrumental “The Life Aquatic” is a sympathetic nod to the tomfoolery of fictional oceanographer Steve Zissou (played by Bill Murray). Bruner also takes a moment to pen a heartfelt love letter to his cat, something he probably couldn’t have done in his debut: [LISTEN]

Don’t you know you rock my world
Don’t you ever leave me Turbo Tron
Don’t ever wonder where I’m going
I always come back to you

What’ll likely garner Bruner the most attention are the dance floor bombers “Oh Sheit It’s X” [LISTEN] and “Lotus and the Jondy.” But on closer inspection it’s the closing track “A Message for Austin/Praise the Lord/Enter the Void” that speaks to the soul of Thundercat. An homage to friend and bandmate Austin Peralta who died last fall at the age of 22, it sends the resounding message that when it comes to Thundercat love will always be a foundational touchstone:

I know I’ll see you again
In another life
Thank you for sharing your love and your light
Though we say goodbye
We will say hello again