Blurred Lines (to be released July 30, 2013)
When Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” single hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, I was very worried.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the track. It’s ridiculously catchy and perfect for summer parties. I don’t even mind that the wife walks around the house repeating the song’s “HEY HEY HEY” chorus.
It’s like I married Fat Albert.
My real concern was Thicke’s track record. Although he’s made some magnificent contributions to R&B over the past decade, his albums often wind up being one-song affairs. Many times the album cuts fail to live up to the high standards of the single.
Sadly, my fears were justified on Thicke’s sixth release.
A word of warning: Fans of Thicke’s seductive R&B selections like “Sex Therapy,” “Lost Without U” and “The Sweetest Love” likely will be very disappointed this time around. Blurred Lines is mostly a pop record, not a R&B collection. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – as the title track shows, Thicke has no problem raising the tempo.
“Ooh La La” is a fun ’80s throwback; his falsetto glides along as the energetic track does the heavy lifting. “Take It Easy On Me” is crammed with goofy innuendo (“I wanna shop for your underwear,” “I want your cherry pie”) and energized with techno vibrancy. It wouldn’t sound out of place on Daft Punk’s latest album. And normally, I’d give a track like “Feel Good” a hard time for following the cut-and-paste dubstep template, but Thicke’s falsetto is the focus instead of the usual repetitive synths. In this case, it works.
The rest of the album, though, doesn’t work.
Thicke tries to use the album as a platform to offer advice and encouragement to listeners. Unfortunately, bad lyrics hinder those efforts. “Ain’t No Hat 4 That” is supposed to be a cautionary tale for all you Material Girls, warning that treasures don’t provide happiness. Too bad the metaphors get all jumbled up. “Get In My Way” is the usual self-empowerment anthem that you’ve heard a billion times before. “Top of the World” is a better take on that issue but it’s crippled by Thicke’s rapping. Yes, playa, the dude is rapping. And with lines like “I got a big hammer but baby is a hard rock,” Nas and Jay-Z have nothing to fear.
Speaking of rapping, Kendrick Lamar’s verse on “Give It 2 U” is the only redeeming part of the song. It’s so over the top in its sexuality that it’ll make you groan. And not a sexy groan, either.
It makes you long for Thicke’s trademark ballads. Sadly, all we get is “4 the Rest of My Life,” which isn’t bad but kinda drowsy.
I’m all for experimentation and I commend Thicke for trying a much more upbeat approach on Blurred Lines. It’s too bad there’s nothing here as fun as the title track.
Best tracks: “Blurred Lines” (duh), “Ooh La La”
3 stars out of 5