An Expertly-Crafted Pop Record – Rolling Stone

On first look, it’s straightforward to chalk up Charlie Puth’s music as gimmicky. In any case, that is the man who spent the pandemic throwing up thirst traps on Instagram and documenting the recording of his newest album, Charlie, with spastic, random movies on TikTok and Reels.

The 30-year-old even has a track on his self-titled album referred to as “That’s Hilarious,” with lyrics criss-crossing between severe and scatty like a “JK” textual content. You half-expect Puth to finish the track with a laughing emoji or an apology for by chance making you’re feeling some kind of means.

Puth has all the time been one of many savviest artists within the business and he is aware of the right way to get individuals speaking, as demonstrated by his skin-baring pics on social media. However on Charlie, the singer lastly has an album that deserves the eye– and admiration –he appears to crave so desperately.

Throughout 12 tracks that each one clock in below three minutes or so in size, Charlie is an expertly-crafted assortment of earworms that keep in your head longer than any viral photograph or TikTok clip. On his terrific, cohesive third studio album, the person with the proper pitch proves he’s obtained the proper formulation for an excellent pop document too.

At its core, Charlie is a breakup album, with lyrics that talk to loneliness and remorse. “Don’t give your coronary heart to a woman who’s nonetheless obtained a damaged one,” Puth sings on the John Mellencamp-esque “Smells Like Me,” which flips the lipstick-on-collar analogy to a male perspective. “You simply can’t evaluate what was once, I hope your jacket smells like me,” he croons, daring his ex to recover from him.

On the hard-chugging “Charlie Be Quiet,” Puth holds again from revealing his true emotions to the item of his affection. “I’m not making the identical mistake, received’t be placing my coronary heart on show,” he warns himself. “If she is aware of you’re in love, she’s going to run away.”

Regardless of his seemingly blase persona, Puth is a delicate soul at coronary heart and Charlie explores the multitude of feelings that come from unrequited love. However whereas Puth is a person who’s been wronged, he isn’t somebody who wallows, and the darker lyrics on the album are lifted by brilliant and upbeat melodies, which reference every thing from various, to pop rock, to early-aughts boy bands.

The quirky “Tears On My Piano” performs like a Third Eye Blind B-side with its minor key guitar riff and shout-it-out refrain. ”Child you’re accountable for all these tears on my piano,” Puth wails, in opposition to a staccato-style cadence Stephen Jenkins can be pleased with.

There are shades of Blink 182 on the hovering “There’s a First Time for Every thing,” and a transparent Weezer affect on his newest single, “I Don’t Assume That I Like Her,’ which is catchier and extra intelligent than something on the radio proper now.

After which there’s the precise boy band affect on Charlie, with Puth teaming up with BTS’ Jungkook on the summer time hit “Left and Proper” which has already amassed greater than 500 million streams on-line (hearken to the track on a pair of headphones with spatial audio to actually get the “left and proper” impact).

Simply as individuals use humor to diffuse stress, Puth deftly performs round with sonic sensibilities on the album to offset the mature subject material. Nowhere is that higher represented than on the head-bopping, finger-snapping “Loser,” a mournful quantity masquerading as a Jamiroquai-style dance monitor.

At his finest, Puth is likely one of the most-gifted vocalists in pop music in the present day, mixing his delicate falsetto with an impatient, decorative decrease register to rousing impact. The Berklee grad additionally places his music manufacturing diploma to good use, taking the songs to sudden locations with a shocking chord development right here, a key change there or — on “Charlie Be Quiet” — a whisper to full voice second that immediately instructions your consideration.

He’s much less efficient relating to conveying emotion, together with his voice so rigorously produced at occasions, that there’s little room for feeling. The piano-driven ballad “When You’re Unhappy I’m Unhappy” is directly candy and forlorn however lacks the heft wanted to hold the subject material. And whereas a lot of Charlie is about loss and insecurities, there’s a way that Puth hasn’t truly finished the work to recover from his self-doubt. It’s mirrored in a disconcerting dissonance between what Puth is singing about and how he’s singing about it. At occasions you’re nearly left wanting to listen to his voice break or crack just a bit, if solely so you possibly can really feel one thing alongside the intensely-charged lyrics.

Maybe if Puth focuses much less on bearing his abs and extra on bearing his soul, he’ll be capable to lastly create his masterpiece. Till then, Charlie is an immaculate placeholder — and that’s no joke.

Editor’s Notice: You will have observed that we removed the celebrities on our evaluations. In the event you’re an engaged music fan in 2022, your opinion isn’t going to be outlined by some random quantity. We’ll let you know immediately (with some new labels) when a brand new album is a must-hear or, in rarer instances, an on the spot traditional. After that, our critics will make it easier to make up your personal rattling thoughts.

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