Ne-Yo - R.E.D.

Ne-Yo
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Eh, not another one of these acronym-laden albums. You would think the ever-dapper Ne-Yo wouldn’t need to buckle under the pressures of miming the titles of The Game’s 2011 album or Taylor Swift’s best-selling 2012 album, but his latest disc, R.E.D. (meaning “Realizing Every Dream”), feels like a last-minute effort to feel creative. But, that’s what happens when your MJ-inspired concept album, Libra Scale, fails to connect with fans in 2010 and sells a fraction of your first two discs. Ne-Yo, a dedicated admirer of Jackson’s pop-meets-R&B song craft, had to regroup and make some more effective changes. Luckily, he has a wild card in his possession – “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” repeats the winning strobe light formula of his 2011 summer hit, “Give Me Everything,” which featured a joint collaboration with rapper Pitbull.

Eh, not another one of these acronym-laden albums. You would think the ever-dapper Ne-Yo wouldn’t need to buckle under the pressures of miming the titles of The Game’s 2011 album or Taylor Swift’s best-selling 2012 album, but his latest disc, R.E.D. (meaning “Realizing Every Dream”), feels like a last-minute effort to feel creative. But, that’s what happens when your MJ-inspired concept album, Libra Scale, fails to connect with fans in 2010 and sells a fraction of your first two discs. Ne-Yo, a dedicated admirer of Jackson’s pop-meets-R&B song craft, had to regroup and make some more effective changes. Luckily, he has a wild card in his possession – “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” repeats the winning strobe light formula of his 2011 summer hit, “Give Me Everything,” which featured a joint collaboration with rapper Pitbull. Never mind that Aussie songwriter Sia (Rihanna’s “Diamonds”) also had her hand in its creation, the song keeps Ne-Yo’s happy feet on the dance floor, even if it means he’s peddling further away from his contemporary R&B base.

The album’s openers aren’t all that infatuating: The Shea Taylor-produced “Cracks in Mr. Perfect” paints Ne-Yo as a hard-to-believe womanizer with a bad addiction. “Chasing women when I should be recording/Invite a couple then/I invite some more in,” he confesses. Without a climatic build-up, the song wallows too long in its solemnness. “Lazy Love,” another Taylor slow jam, relies heavily on deep bass, echo drums and sultry Trey Songz-esque pick-up lines, but Ne-Yo’s vocal appears to be, you guess it, lazy. Thankfully, the album rebounds with the StarGate-handled “Miss Right” and “Jealous,” a proper midtempo groove that comes as a bit of relief to Ne-Yo’s slightly-bruised ego. As the album paces onward, the album becomes riddled with a fury of positives and negatives. He makes a few good strides, particularly on the crafty r&b-meets-country experiments of “She Is” with Tim McGraw and with the robo –MJ joint “Forever Now “, but averts back to midgrade R&B tunes like “Carry On.” His Wiz Khalifa collaboration on “Don’t Make ‘Em Like You,” probably the album’s biggest odd ball, is completely devastated with slurry synths, while also recycling a Ron Isley lyric.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Ne-Yo is becoming less interested with doing his homework. Not sure if “Lazy Love” or if “Cracks in Mr. Perfect” is somewhat autobiographic, but he needs to get his mind back in the game. There are just too many cracks in R.E.D. to seriously call this a notch up. Mildly recommended

By J Matthew Cobb

 
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