Thursday, March 19, 2009

Album Review: The-Dream - Love vs. Money (4/5)

Love Vs. Hate is the sophomore album from the latest singer from R&B, The-Dream. I wasn't planning on giving this album a listen, but the remarkably positive reviews from critics provoked me to. Love vs. Money follows up to his debut album, which had a similar title, Love/Hate back in 2007, I only just gave that album a listen earlier today and I was neither impressed or disappointed. This new effort however is a very solid offering, much better than its predecessor.

I'm surprised The-Dream didn't jump on the double-disc bandwagon and make 1 CD "Love" a second one "Money", like Beyonce's done on her latest album I Am... Sasha Fierce. The album draws inspiration from notable R&B singers, like J. Holiday, R. Kelly and Usher, at times sounding too similar, which unfortunately brings down the albums originality level.

"Rockin' That Sh.." (which has been editied to "Rockin' That Thang" for commercial release) lends the album a very mellow opening, backed with synthesizers, faint tambourines and a very soothing chorus, consisting of soaring, high pitched "oohs" throughout the backing track, moving on swiftly into "Walkin' On The Moon" which racks up as the 'dance' of the album, I don't really like, but it's something new so I'll give him that. The song is very tingy, sounding a tad empty - admittedly it has very good groove, but lacks a melody that sticks.

One of the albums more obvious high points include "My Love" Featuring Mariah Carey, which contracts a bouncy bassline, accompanied by a sultry vocal from Mariah and an enticing one from The-Dream. Match made in heaven. The next 2 tracks take their inspirations from fellow R&B singer. "Put It Down" is an instant reminiscent of J.Holiday's hit "Bed" and "Sweat It Out" sounds like something from R. Kelly's 2005 album TP3 Reloaded, preferably a cut called "Remote Control". "Take U Home 2 My Mama" is pure fun - complete with synthesizers and a catchy chorus. I also like the rhythmic clicks in the background.

The title track "Love Vs. Money" follows up in a 2 part series, I don't particularly like any of them, but I do prefer the second part, which is much slower than the first, adopting a Justin Timberlake-ish sound. "Fancy" is the albums first proper ballad, and an unusual one at that (unusual in a good way). Combining traditional piano chords with rhythmic handclaps, it sounds very creative, just a tad bland, but nevertheless a solid track. "Right Side Of My Brain" is another slow number, with Timbaland like murmuring in the background - but "Fancy" is better.

"Mr. Yeah" is a mid-tempo number -- taking its roots from Usher's "Trading Places" but endorsing a more richer sound. It's very piano backed just like "Trading Places" is, the chorus is more enthusiastic than and fulfilling than "Trading Places". "Kelly's 12 Play" is another unusual number, the song makes strong references to R.Kelly's 1992 blockbuster album 12 Play. The song is very weird indeed, the backing track sounds like it's in reverse, giving the song a spacey theme. One of the most interesting cuts I've heard from an R&B album in a long time.

"Let Me See That Booty" and "Hater" I don't particularly care for, "Kelly's 12 Play" should've ended the album. Overall, I'm very impressed with Love vs. Money although I didn't think I would be. Their a couple duds but it's a very solid effort.

Best Tracks: My Love, Kelly's 12 Play, Rockin' That Sh, Sweat It Out, Take U Home 2 My Mama, Put It Down, Fancy, Mr. Yeah

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