Saturday, March 28, 2009

Album Review: Keri Hlson - In a Perfect World... (4/5)

Keri Hilson emerged onto the music scene back in 2001, writing songs for the likes of Ciara, Beyonce and Usher. In 2004 she made her vocal debut when she featured on rapper Xzibit's single "Hey Now" which gave the songstress her first UK top 10, although failing to connect to audiences back home. 2007 marked her mainstream debut --featuring on associated producer Timbaland's "The Way I Are"-- which became an instant worldwide hit, peaking at #1 in 10 countries and scoring her first U.S. top 10. Teaming up with Timbaland once again (and Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls) they churned out the enticing "Scream", although it wasn't as successful as "The Way I Are."

After a series of additional features and duets with the likes of Nas and Chris Brown, we finally have the official debut album. In A Perfect World... marks Hilson's accredited introduction onto the music scene --I was definitely expecting... more? I guess, an urban contemporary meets electronica vibe. I wasn't conjecturing a simple modulation between modern R&B and Pop, strangely enough.

I don't generally care for album introductions, but the intro for this album is very good --a great club ready joint backed with layered vocals and a deep hip-hop bassline. A very gritty start to the album. The opening song "Turnin' Me On" with Lil' Wayne (which became a top 40 hit in the U.S.) is an upbeat urban, hip-hop flavored number --thumping a boisterous contralto, consisting of tambourines, rhythmic handclaps, drums and recurring chanting of "aye". Fellow R&B singer Keyshia Cole and rapper Trina both team up with Keri on "Get Your Money Up" which thuds an abrasive beat and a kinetic clap and bounce motion, definitely one of my favorite cuts on here. What I feared was Keyshia and Keri would be laborious to tell apart, but fortunately that wasn't the case --seeming as their sound is so similar.

The albums current single "Return The Favor" with Timbaland, is another highlight, pulsating with a great handclap bass and a very glutinous chorus. "Knock You Down" with Kanye West, throws a grating remincent to T.I. & Rihanna's "Live Your Life" without the catchy the chorus. I really love this song, the gushes of horns in the background work wonders for the chorus, I also love the buoyant chorus. The dramatic "Energy" (which is located towards the end of the album) was originally the albums lead single, but was later pulled due to its dismal peak on the U.S. charts. I loved this song --It's climatic nature-- only backed with a miraculous piano and faint rhythmic bells.

The album takes a lustful turn on "Slow Dance" and "Tell Him The Truth" which makes up its more sensual moments, reverberating through a drum and synthesized beat. "Make Love" carries the same type of mid-tempo-ness, except very more melodic and more ballad-like, thanks to the piano.

The albums has couple duds like "Alienated" which is a very odd (and synthesized) number, It has no noticeable melody and a very humdrum chorus. "Change Me" with Akon is suppose to be the Pop contemporary of the album, but lacks a good hook and a noticeable inflection. "Intuition" and "How Does It Feel" are the albums unknowns, songs that aren't bad but don't particualy stand out. In A Perfect World... is a satisfying album, nothing too spectacular or compelling, just very good for what it is. I think it could've been better.

Best Tracks: Return The Favor, Knock You Down, Turnin' Me On, Tell Him The Truth, Get Your Money Up, Energy

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