I can’t help but feel a certain personal connection to Trey Songz. You see, much like Songz,...
DJBooth Album Review
While Usher refuses to relinquish the overall r&b crown, thanks to both to the fall of Chris Brown and a slew of top shelf guest features, over the past year Songz has become, without doubt, the face of young r&b. While his previous effort Ready often found him imitating his older idols, on Passion, Pain & Pleasure it finally sounds like he’s stepped into his own. In fact, I began my review of Ready with one question, “Who is Trey Songz?” Now, finally, we know.
Trey Songz is god’s gift to the charts, and liquor companies. The last time I was in Vegas all you could hear was the steady hum of slot machines and a seemingly never ending chorus of Say Aah, so of course Songz went right back to the well for PP&P’s lead single, Bottom’s Up. (Note: It doesn’t look nearly as cool as Passion, Pain & Pleasure, but I’m already tired of typing it out, so from now on the album’s PP&P.) Like its predecessor Say Aah, Songz crafts a melodically light, alcohol drenched ode to, well, alcohol that should only further cement his reputation as r&b’s best club hit singer, even if Nicki did completely upstage him with a psychotic guest verse. Impressively, and tellingly, Bottom’s Up is PP&P’s sole club anthem. It would have been so easy for him to simply make 18 variations of Bottom’s Up, but the rest of the album is much more purely r&b. The electronically up-tempo You Just Need Me, and to a lesser extent Red Lipstick, are the closest we get to pop again, but they’re relative rarities. What’s missing from PP&P is actually more important than what it contains; gone are the painfully juvenile panderings to the teen set like LOL Smiley Face. Instead, Trey has become a man, and this is a man’s album.
Trey Songz is a babymaker. As he says in the intro to Unusual, “I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t get a little nasty,” and sure enough PP&P is filled with more casual sex than spring break in Cabo. Since I brought it up, we might as well stick with Unusual, a “anytime, anywhere” anthem that brings in Drake for what’s sure to become a steamy future single. But Unusual is unusually up-tempo for a real baby maker, so if you’re truly looking to, in the immortal words of R. Kelly, bump n’ grind, you’d be hard pressed to surpass the bouncing Doorbell , and if you can put aside the unintentional comedy of a title like Love Faces, Songz vocally proves he’s a master of the genre by showing restraint in all the right places on Faces. Songz can’t yet touch his idol D’Angelo in the infant creation department, but from the sparkling Message to the minimal Pleasure, he’s closer than ever before.
Songz, unfortunately, is not a particularly deep artist. Although his versatile voice is tailor made for bedroom sessions and black out partying, it lacks the depth, the hint of grit, to make any song truly emotional. It’s no surprise then that PP&P’s weakest moments come on regret-filled pleas for forgiveness like Please Return My Call and the haunted Unfortunate. Can’t Be Friends might just be the best break up record we ever hear from Songz, but even then his voice lacks that true heartache that singers like Lyfe Jennings and Anthony Hamilton can convey so powerfully. Still, these aren’t so much complaints as thing that hold back PP&P from perfection; perfection that, if this album is any indication, we might hear someday from Songz. Someday.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 09/13/10
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"Pain In My Life" (2006)
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