Sunday, July 06, 2008

Album Review: Mariah Carey - E=MC² (4 / 5)

The last time Mariah Carey was in the spotlight, it was because her comeback album, The Emancipation of Mimi which saw Carey, a well deserved return to prominence — scoring her the biggest hit of her career, "We Belong Together" which earned the singer 2 Grammy nominations (Record of the Year and Song of the Year) and 2 wins (Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance). Mimi was a really refreshing album from Carey, finding the right balance between old school, modern and contemporary R&B, with a dash of pop and balladry — essentially making the perfect comeback album. But how does E=MC² follow up?

E=MC² is basically a carbon copy of Mimi — using the same winning formula as before, not really exploring any new boundaries, but why fix something that's not broken? Using the whole starting in the club ("It's Like That") and ending in church ("Fly Like a Bird") blueprint. The albums kicks off with, "Migrate" featuring T-Pain. A gritty, hip-hop styled track, with gushes of light R&B to keep it contemporary. It's a very strong opening, I do prefer this to "It's Like That." Following up swiftly is the naughty lead single we all know and love, "Touch My Body" becoming Carey's 18th chart topper, I would say it's pretty faultless — a little lighthearted provocative behavior never hurt anybody.

Getting more into the depths of the album. "Cruise Control," with Damien Marley, is a breezy mid-tempo, with a dash of Caribbean flavor — not something I remember Carey doing before. Her Jamaican accent is pretty humerus too. "Side Effects," with Young Jeezy, is a dark R&B number, backed softly with an 808 machine with some haunting bleeps running through. Carey discusses experience with Ex-Husband, Tommy Mottola. Another song that ventures in a moody R&B territory is, "Thanx 4 Nothin," which is a another favorite. It begins with a crashing bassline, before moving into an acoustic sound, which plays out throughout the song.

Just like, Mimi — has its fair share of ballads, probably more."I Stay In Love," is the first that pops up, sounding like a duplicate of ("We Belong Together," and give-or-take, "Don't Forget About Us") backed beautifully by a piano and pretty strong vocal delivery. I also noticed it sounds like "Never Letchu Go," from Janet Jackson's latest album, Discipline."Love Story," which features vocals from Jermaine Dupri, is another ballad, but with a more cutting edge bassline and a more interesting story line, making it a standout — again Carey sound immaculate on here."Last Kiss," is your typically love-dovey ballad, although it sounds good, it's not really anything special. The last 2 ballads are: the weepy, "Bye Bye" which finds Carey reminiscing on her lost and loves ones. I hear it's the second single and lastly, "I Wish You Well" which is essentially a better version of, Mimis, "Fly Like a Bird" using the typical but effective vocal and piano technique.

"I'm That Chick," is a smooth mid-tempo 80s influenced disco number, not really one of my favorites, but it's a good song. "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time," is a great summery track — backed with a catchy yet enchanting melody. As I expected, the album does have its flaws, "O.O.C." is a breezy but lazy number, it doesn't completely suck it has a nice tambourine and handclap beat to it but that's when the excitement ends. The repetition of ("It's forever") seems like a way to get out of writing more lyrics, (Kinda like "Bliss," from the, Rainbow album which found Carey singing high-pitched "aahs" in replace of any lyrics in the chorus) and the sudden change into the French and Spanish language adopts the same reason.

"For the Record," Carey described as a treat for the fans, as she makes reference to her past songs (notably, "Underneath the Stars" and "My All," in the bridge) It's a mellow, almost enchanting track, but it just doesn't stick and fades into the bulk of the album.

E=MC² nicely follows to, The Emancipation of Mimi not bringing in anything new or taking anything away, yet not remaining exactly the same. Whilst I prefer, Mimi - E=MC² did its job: to present a decent combination of contemporary pop and R&B to show Carey's still relevant and to throw in a handful of ballads to show she still has that powerful vocal everyone fell in love back at the start 0f the 90s.

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