Love After War (Deluxe Edition) (released December 6, 2011)
There may be no artist that the wifey, the lovely Webmistress of GeorgiaMae.com, is more protective of than Robin Thicke. We’ve discussed this before – most of America fell in love with Robin’s falsetto in 2006 when he dropped “Lost Without U” from his sophomore album. But the wifey had been drooling over him at least three years prior, back when he looked like one of Jesus’ disciples.
Glad he changed the oil in his hair.
Over the years, Thicke has evolved from reclusive hippy soulman to hob-nobbing with hip hop’s top stars. His last album, Sex Therapy, had more rappers than the last BET Awards. But Love After War, his fifth set, might confuse Thicke’s newer fans – he steps away from his recent urban sounds to go back to revisit his roots.
“An Angel on Each Arm” and “I’m An Animal” both feature a robust, almost big-band sound – you won’t recognize the usual hip hop synths and 808s but you’ll be urged to hit the dance floor nonetheless. The whiny horns on “The New Generation” and hyperactive orchestra strings on “Never Give Up” sound great as well. What’s equally great is Thicke’s voice. His familiar falsetto is mostly MIA on this album, and while he doesn’t have the strongest pipes in the world, he definitely holds his own using his full voice.
The single “Love After War” is a bit too breezy but things pick up when Thicke starts seducing the ladies (endangering my marriage in the process). To borrow a phrase from the 90s (as I always do), Thicke is totally sprung on “All Tied Up,” asking his lady to “lay across my pillow and make love to my ego.” Things slow down to a wax-melting crawl on “Mission,” in a good way. It’s everything that is great about those old Isley Bros. tracks, without the annoying Ron Isley ad libs. We’re thankfully spared the “la-la-las” and “well-well-wells.”
Thicke even saves “Pretty Lil Heart” from the depths of parody. Co-conspirator Lil Wayne’s opening verses are painfully crude and cliche (“beat the p*ssy up, Rocky Balboa”) but you forget about Weezy’s wackness once the maestro steps in.
Love After War starts pretty strong, but about halfway through the tracks fall into a sea of bluesy blandness. “Dangerous,” “Full-Time Believer,” “Cloud 9” – they’re all almost indistinguishable. And many of ’em even tilt into the lullaby territory currently populated by your favorite rapper Drake. By the way, pass on the Deluxe Edition of Love After War. The bonus disc features even more drowsiness, including a remake of “Stupid Things,” which was featured on Thicke’s first album, when he was in his Jesus Christ Superstar phase. Trust me, the original is much better, and was recently featured by the wifey (of course) on a recent Flashback Friday.
Love After War is an odd album. Thicke’s newer fans won’t like it at all – there’s no Kid Cudi or Nicki Minaj to hold their attention (and thank the Lord for that). Older fans will find more to love, but might drift off about two-thirds into the album. At 20 tracks (including the three bonus ones), it’s just way too bloated. Overall, it’s a pretty good set that is in dire need of an editor. I’m sure the wifey will gladly volunteer her services next time.
Best tracks: “Mission,” “All Tied Up,” “Never Give Up”
3.5 stars out of 5