Toni Braxton's sixth studio album, Pulse, follows a series of professional and personal downfalls for the singer. Her last two albums Libra and More Than a Woman weren't received as well received as her releases during the '90s, where Braxton was at her prime. Whilst you could crown Pulse a return to form, it doesn't embrace brewing sex-driven sleek of her last successful album, The Heat, nor the classy R&B of Libra, there's nothing here that suggest restoration of Braxton's relevance.
However, despite its wish washy feel, there are a handful of great songs that suggests that if given a chance Braxton could compete with the best of the current adult contemporary acts, such as Mary J Blige and Alicia Keys. Opening is "Yesterday," pulsating with grandeur and gorgeous balladry, effectively showcasing Braxton's stunning vocal. It's a strong opener embracing the same strength as her signiture number "Un-Break My Heart."
Embracing a refreshing pop/rock sound is "If If I Have to Wait," which is probably the albums biggest highlight and my favorite on here. The clattering, club-inspired "Make My Heart" and "Lookin' At Me," aren't favorites. Their faux-disco, "Single Ladies" wannbe sound doesn't quite work, however following is "Woman," an empowering, grand drum and string laced ballad, again showing off Braxton awesome chops. Towards the end of the album things start fizzle slightly."Wardrobe," rocks a luring guitar and bass sound, which sounds pretty good. "Hero," is pretty much the same ol same ol mid-tempo R&B. A highlight is "No Way," a warm acoustic ballad (similar to "I Wanna Be (Your Baby)") from Libra. Title track "Pulse" is a pretty weak ballad and the album ends on a bum note on the plodding, "Why Won't You Love Me."
Whilst album sure isn't anything groundbreaking or anything near as good as her last album or The Heat, it does serve up a pretty strong set of songs even if some are rather hit and miss. Although it is a shame sales indicate this will most certainly not be the successful "emancipation" Braxton had hoped for.
Best: Yesterday, If I Have to Wait, Woman, No Way, Wardrobe