Sep 29 2009

Memoirs - imperfect Angels is Perfect

< > Mariah's new album Memoirs of an imperfect Angel is out TODAY! The Associated Press calls it perfect, the Chicago Tribune says it is her best album since the '90s and reviewers across the country can't get enough of the lyrics of "Up Out My Face", the vocals in "I Want To Know What Love Is" and the album's smooth and mature R&B tone as helmed by Mariah and the album's co-producers Tricky Stewart and The-Dream. Here are excerpts from various media reviews of the new album.

 Carey's 'Imperfect Angel' is perfectMesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press 

"I should crack you right in your forehead," Mariah Carey sings on the breakup tune "It's a Wrap." 

The song, on her latest CD, "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel," finds a hungover Carey kicking her lover to the curb with particularly harsh words."Another early morning, and you walk in like it's nothing ... ain't no doughnuts, ain't coffee," she sings with attitude in her signature high-pitch tone. "Let me take a breath and regain my composure, told you more time, if you (expletive) up it's over." 

But even though she's spitting venom, Carey's cooing on the doo-wop sounding song is so sensuous and sweet, even the song's intended target will remain under her spell — as will her listeners."Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" is an exceptional album that is about love — being in it, out of it, over it and trying to reach it. While the subjects are tried and true, they are never tired, thanks to Carey's approach, which mixes a good dose of humor and wit with her multi-octave voice. 

"Betcha Gon' Know," the disc's opening track, sets the tone as Carey compares the seriousness of her broken heart to news programs like "60 Minutes," ''20/20" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show."Carey produced and wrote the majority of the album with Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and Terius "The-Dream" Nash — and those hitmakers add their own touch to "Imperfect Angel" without overdoing it. 

"Ribbon," which bumps with southern flavor, is radio-friendly, showcasing The-Dream and Tricky's signature sound. As does "Standing O," with its addictive hook. 

Other notables tunes include "H.A.T.E.U." ("Having a Typical Emotional Upset"), a beautiful heartbreak ballad, and the top-notch "Candy Bling," a teenage love affair tune that finds Carey so in love she "can't delete your picture from my mind." 

Some of the tracks use samples: "Inseparable" interpolates Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and "The Impossible" finds Carey "layin' in the bed bumpin' Jodeci." The latter samples the R&B group's hit song "Forever My Lady." 

"Imperfect Angel," though helmed by The-Dream and Tricky, still maintains a classic Mariah sound — especially on the soothing "Angels Cry" and its accompanying prelude, and the personal "Languishing," highlighted by a piano. 

No one is perfect — that's obvious. This CD is — that's obvious too. 

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: "It's a Wrap" joins tracks like "Vision of Love," ''Always Be My Baby" and "We Belong Together" as a classic Mariah song. 

 Greg Kot, Chicago TribuneOn her 12th studio album, “Memoirs of an imperfect Angel” (Island),  Carey doesn’t resort to vocal histrionics or production gimmickry. Instead, she plays it low-key, and ends up with her best album since the ‘90s heyday.Rather than farm out songs to a series of producers, she primarily sticks with the songwriting/production team of Tricky Stewart and the Dream, who frame her voice in subtle, low-key arrangements. Using sparse keyboards, a spritz of strings, a kick-drum rumble here and there, and lots of slow-motion handclaps and sensual finger snaps, they dial down the bombast considerably. In response, Carey turns in some of the most measured and beautifully understated singing of her career. 

Her voice is frequently multi-tracked to create the illusion that she’s dueting with herself, with counterpoint melody lines. The effect is nothing new in R&B; Marvin Gaye turned this studio technique into an art form on his 1971 masterpiece “What’s Going On.” But the old-school soul connection is appropriate: This is Carey building on slow-jam R&B and adult-themed ballads to create a loose song cycle about love lost and regained.  

Carey really hits her stride on “It’s a Wrap”; she sounds refreshingly raw, surrounded by minimal instrumentation. As she emotes with just a hint of grit, a small squadron of Carey voices loop in and around her lead vocal, giving the song just the right amount of decoration.   

     “Impossible” is almost impossibly fragile, but Carey turns it into a tour de force of soft-core texture, as if whispering into a lover’s ear. “Angel (Prelude)” brings out the high-pitched vocal flights that were the singer’s signature earlier in her career. But instead of showing off, she’s going for something eerier with a muted, otherworldly tone. Brian Mansfield, USA TodayMost tracks on Memoirs of an imperfect Angel stick to midtempo R&B grooves and slow jams, but Carey is all over the place emotionally — seductive, nostalgic, vindictive, occasionally within a matter of lines. Sometimes, she pulls the songs in different directions. First single Obsessed conveys pride and repulsion at being the object of unwarranted advances. Betcha Gon' Know, which plays like a first-person account of The Persuaders' '70s R&B hit Thin Line Between Love and Hate, suggests both vulnerability and violence.Just as many listeners assumed Obsessed to be about Eminem, they'll also hear Up Out My Face, with lyrics like, "I know you're not a rapper, so you better stop spittin' it," to be the continuation of Carey's beef with him. That song also contains one of Memoirs' many funny lines: "If we were two Lego blocks, even the Harvard University graduating class of 2010 couldn't put us back together again."Mariah's gloriously gospel-infused version of Foreigner's I Want to Know What Love Is certainly comes close to finding heaven.

Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times

There's a breathiness to Memoirs that's not only sexy but emotionally intimate. Heavy on slow jams, quiet confessions and kiss-offs closer to the work of the rappers she admires than to Carey's soul sisters, "Memoirs of an imperfect Angel" capitalizes on an underrated aspect of the singer's talent: Her ability, even when she's scaling vocal heights, to still come off as just another girl at the nail salon.Even at its most extravagant, Carey's singing has a warmth, a sensuality and openness to it that sets her apart from peers like Whitney Houston and younger pretenders like Leona Lewis. When she tones down her singing, those qualities dominate.I wouldn't be surprised if, a decade from now, Carey cites this effort as a personal favorite. It's that kind of wholly decent effort: a self-exploration that settles on its unpretentious insights by not pushing too hard.  

Lauren Carter, Boston Herald 

Singing is fun again! And so is Mariah. “Ribbon” and crunk-laced single “Obsessed” are the closest “Memoirs” comes to hip-hop; the remainder is a throwback mix of ballads and midtempo r & b mini-sagas that let Carey wander into whispers, purrs, high-octave whistles and full-throttle force (check out “It’s a Wrap”). Sassy and occasionally ridiculous lyrics (“love you like a freeze pop”) bring out a playful side that offsets the time Carey spends languishing in lost love territory. She’s at her best when dismissing, not missing, that no-longer-special someone, as on the track to download, “Up Out My Face.” 

Mariel Concepcion, Billboard 

Mariah Carey is not only revisiting her past appearance-wise (lately the singer has been wearing her hair in loose curls, as seen during the early days of her career), but she's also taking her sound back to her R&B roots. On Carey's latest album, "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" (with the exception of the first single, "Obsessed," and the hood-girl-sounding "Up out My Face," among a few others), the singer leaves behind the teeny-bop themes and hip-hop-heavy melodies of 2008's "E=MC2." Instead, she opts for big ballads and R&B tunes about love and heartbreak, which makes the new set more cohesive and age-appropriate. Carey croons in her staple high-pitched voice over piano and finger snaps on "Angels Cry," while singing about true love alongside a thumbing bass on "Inseparable." Meanwhile, "The Impossible" takes its cue from early-'90s group Jodeci's "Forever My Lady." Overall, Carey's throwback vibe on "Memoirs" is refreshing and much welcomed. 

John Bush, All Music Group 

Any Mariah Carey album carries a lot of weight - fan dreams, commercial expectations, the prospect of genuine pop thrill, the star's outsized persona - and 2009's Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is no different. Trailing a pair of hits, "Obsessed" and her anthemic cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is," it's a lock for commercial success, and it includes plenty of the soaring vocals and falsetto trills that fans love her for. It's also remarkably unified, with no guest features and a very special coup, in that every song on the album was composed by R&B's best songwriters of the late 2000s, Terius Nash (The-Dream) and Christopher Stewart (Tricky); they give each song the intelligent mid-tempo bump-and-grind they've made into a specialty. Personally, it finds Carey probing and investigating her inner life, with lines like "I can't wait to hate you" and "Why you so obsessed with me?" shot at targets both public and private. 

Jon Carmanica, New York Times 

"H.A.T.E.U." has some of the ease of her recent successes, and "It's a Wrap" swings with girl-group melody. But it's the vintage notes here that resonate most intensely. She lets her voice go at the end of "Candy Bling," a cold splash of water that reminds us what Ms. Carey can do when left unfettered. The same is true of the smoldering "Languishing (The Interlude)," which is Ms. Carey at her most astute, devastatingly precise in tone and feeling; notably, it's the only song on this album untouched by Tricky and The-Dream.

It bleeds into the closer, a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is," that begins in surprisingly modest fashion. Then comes the gospel-choir backup and the glass-shattering high notes, restoring Ms. Carey to the role she was born for: a singer unafraid of pomp, of ambition, of herself. 

Darryl Sterdan, Toronto SunMariah Carey's 12th album, Memoirs of an imperfect Angel, is neither self-indulgent nor silly. In fact, it's one of her more focused efforts, downplaying the hip-hop and club bangers of late for well-penned, creatively produced R&B ballads that showcase Carey's powerhouse pipes without sacrificing hooks and melodies. Imperfect, but susprisingly good.

Download: H.A.T.E.U., Up Out My Face
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