Charlie Puth: Voicenotes

Posted October 14, 2018 by in Pop



4.5/ 5


Genre: ,
Producer: ,
Genre: Pop, R&B
Producer: Charlie Puth, Rickard Goransson, Johan Carlsson, Jason Evigan
Label: Atlantic
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 44:29
Release Date: 11 May 2018
Spin This: "The Way I Am," "Done for Me," "How Long," "Patient"


Confident pipes, sleek R&B-sliced Top 40, no filler — Puth's second LP is a pop wonderland


A bit forced, a bit one-toned, but the songs are so darn good, you can ignore these blimshes

A surprise pop wonderland: Puth’s new album improves his sound and style using sleek, sexy urban soul

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

A surprise pop wonderland: Puth’s new album improves his sound and style using sleek, sexy urban soul

charlieputh-album-00Much of today’s top-tier pop is pretty derivative. Almost everything hot in 2018 sounds like the next pop hot song; Charlie Puth knows that. His last record, Nine Track Mind, wouldn’t cut it on today’s pop dial, since it slips into a singer-songwriter nostalgia that felt like Marvin Gaye meets Ed Sheehan (one of his hit songs was even called “Marvin Gaye”). So, going into his next record, the “One Call Away” singer turns up the dial on the tempo and texture with his lead single “Attention.” In comes the heartbreak, the sex (even if it feels deliberate) and the adult mania (yeah, even if it feels deliberate). But even if Puth, 26, tries too hard with his sky-high falsetto and sudden gospel-copied melisma, the songs inside Voicenotes are a stroke of pop genius. “The Way I Am,” with its ultra singalong chorus, is fun and full of ear worm moments. “How Long,” “BOY” and “LA Girls” turns up the urban soul so much, it’ll have Bruno Mars running for cover. And then the Kehlani-featured “Done for Me” rushes out the gate giving off Wham!-“Everything She Wants” vibes. It’s a gorgeously sweet, but obviously short funky ditty, but it plays perfectly with the governance of Top 40 programming — a rule Puth knows pretty well — that it’s hard to grumble.

As the album marches past the halfway mark, it slows down with a few warm and tender ballads. On the Boyz II Men-anchored “If You Leave Me Now,” the big acapella vocals bear a Take 6 cadence. He gets deliciously churchy with “Through It All.” The Rhodes-bearing “Patient” (“plea-e-ese, be-e-e patient with me,” he sings) is also a joyous standout, exposing the innocence of his voice as he begs for forgiveness over a fragile relationship being unglued by silly mistakes.

Without a dud in ear sight, Voicenotes hits all the right notes. It also pays homage to a few throwback styles, like Michael McDonald-yacht rock (“Slow It Down”) and Curtis Mayfield-“People Get Ready” inspiration (“Change”). The latter, containing a surprising duet with James Taylor, feels like a timely message song to the races: “Why can’t we just get along if loving one another’s wrong?,” he sings. But unlike his last set of throwback-natured hits, he does all of this reminiscing using lots of modern-day production value and sophisticated gloss. It does feel like a one-tone album: sleek R&B beats and motifs dabbled in a commercial pop batter. It’s blue-eyed soul of the throwback Justin Timberlake kind. But Puth wins this race by pulling off the strongest performances of his career (so far) and by delivering majestic pop song craft. Voicenotes is by far a better album than its predecessor.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Response


Please support HIFI Magazine
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better