Usher: Looking 4 Myself

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Posted July 1, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0
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Usher looks for himself in the same places – the club and the bedroom

Since the will.i.am-produced, breakout dance hit “OMG” splashed its way unto the pop charts, Usher’s onslaught of club workouts have been virtually endless (i.e. “More,” “DJ Got Us Falling In Love,” “Without You”). With that nasty divorce from Tameka Foster now behind him, Usher, 33, is once again returning to what currently works for him on his seventh studio album, Looking 4 Myself.

Dancefloor magnets prove to be fruitful, particularly in the evergreen pastures of synth-pop in which the MJ mentee has been drawn to. Dancefloors should instantly gravitate to the feel-good r&b/pop merge on “Show Me,” the effervescent Katy Perry strobelight-induced “Numb” and the radio-ready “Scream,” a perfect segue from Cobra Starship’s “You Make Me Wanna.” But Usher is also hunting for newer musical templates to experiment with. He goes for Drakeism (“Lessons for the Lover”) and a naughty version of Otis Redding soul that actually works (“Twisted”). Surprisingly, the confessional title cut uses a Eighties rock-meets-John Mayer sound that’s so unlike Usher that it actually surprises. It is those wise experiments that help illuminate the track listing of Looking 4 Myself and actually outshines the doom and gloom of 2010’s Raymond v. Raymond.

But there are a few blunders to avoid: “I Care For U” stretches that blatantly irritable vamp heard on Britney Spears “Hold It Against Me” across its entire track; “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” which finds a way to screw a new one in Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl,” goes ballistic with its Auto-tune and presents the same old BEP tricks; The Rick Ross-anchored, “Lemme See” revisits Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation,” leaving very little to be motivated about.

Sadly, as the album’s last track finishes, Usher is still “looking for himself.” He seriously thinks he can find it in the club, riding around in his Lamborghini, and using his Magic Mike bedroom tricks. On “Lemme See,” for example, Rick Ross coerces “Ursha” into a world of euphoric high-balling fantasy, as he jumps right back into the bachelor life: “And we been sipping on that Merlot so you know what’s next/Working intermissions, switching positions, we so explicit oh!.” Once again, expectations are somewhat dashed. Similar to what happened on Raymond v Raymond, Looking 4 Myself builds up the suspense that it’s going to play like a perfect sequel to Confessions. It never happens. But what you do walk away with is a better Raymond v Raymond.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 8 June 2012
  • Label: RCA
  • Producers: will.i.am, Max Martin, Shellback, Diplo, Rico Love, Noah “40” Shebib, Pharrell, Klas Åhlund, Frank Romano, Axwell, Keith Harris, Steve Angello, Danja, Salaam Remi, Jim Jonson, Swedish House Mafia
  • Spin This: “Twisted,” “Show Me,” “Scream”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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