Mariah Carey – Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel
Well, after many delays and some lackluster singles, Mariah Carey’s new album has dropped. Dropped like a ton of bricks actually.
With sales expected be around the 160K mark and Mariah’s album to NOT debut at #1, it makes one think that the public at large has finally begun to see that the emperor (or empress) is not wearing any clothes. Including her so called “lambs” possibly — many who have gone on the record numerous times saying “they love the album” and “have bought 10 copies.” I guess fewer lambs buying 10 copies doesn’t equate to the massive first week numbers that Mariah is used to.
This album is overproduced, overly long and overdone. From the massive amounts of effects and production used to the sameness of the music and songs, there’s not much to love about this album. Of course, there are a few songs sprinkled throughout the album that are salvagable, but this CD just precipitates the decline of Mariah’s music output into mediocrity.
It’s a sad affair to hear Mariah’s once flawless voice swimming through copious amounts of layering, effect processing, cutting and pasting and all the other vocal tricks that The-Dream and Tricky Stuart had to do to her voice to make it sound reasonable. At times, all that mixed with her “singing” (which is more akin to a very hoarse whisper mixed in with some belts for good measure) and you have songs that are sometimes unintelligible.
The-Dream and Tricky Stuart gave Mariah her last “hit” in the form of “Touch My Body” so it’s no wonder she felt that they could give her an album chock full of hits and that’s why she let them handle the majority of the production and co-writing. Unfortunately, what results is a musical palette that doesn’t extend outside a few musical scales. There’s no real power ballads here though the anemic cover of Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” tries its hardest; no real radio smashes a la Jermaine Dupri; no blockbuster hip-hop collabs or contributions either. The-Dream and Tricky use the same sounds and tricks that they’ve been using, only less effectively than they’ve used them with other artists lately. What results in the end is a syrupy mess of an album, that leaves Mariah sounding like a new artist struggling for a musical indentity and not a diva and superstar talent that has had a great musical history under her belt.
The lyrics on this album are often so elementary that it pains you to listen. Mariah continues to pander to the common denominator in her songs — even using the word “denominator” at one point. The album has few saving graces though — the poppy “Up Out Of My Face” and it’s “Drumline” channeling reprise is sure to be an ode to husband Nick Cannon, but it’s definitely one of the better tracks, channeling 90’s era Mariah R&B sensibilities. The chopped & screwed palor over “Ribbon” is ripe for a guest appearance by a rapper, but we are still pleased with its hard-driving beat, pre-hook and hook. “Inseperable” is also as close to Butterfly era Mariah we will get, as Mariah’s vocal sound familiar, strong and comfortable on that hook as well.
There’s lots of filler and lots of typical Mariah tricks — whistle notes at the end of every song, lots of half-sung lyrical stinkers (including the flop “Obsessed”), and big airy vocals to cover up the fact that Mariah’s voice isn’t as strong as it is. If you listen, you can hear many cracks and obvious “cut/paste” jobs as some songs sound as if they were recorded in 30 takes or more. Sure, the old Mariah is gone, but one wonders if she shouldn’t have quit while she was ahead and went out on top.
The artistic creativity that could have driven us past the fact that her voice isn’t there anymore is terribly missing on this album. The song selections, the choice of producers and the lack of a real “hit” are serious demerits against the album, and only the most stringent fans will truly appreciate this album. The lambs will buy 10 copies sure, but this is one lamb that won’t be lead willingly to the slaughter.