Monday, May 24, 2010

Usher - Raymond V Raymond

A whole thesis could be written about post-break-up records, but generally speaking, it can be said that they are usually seen as a return to form for the artist in question - and let's not try to analyze the reasons behind this fact. The truth is that, in many cases, it really is like that, and Raymond V Raymond is no exception.
Saying that this new album by Usher is full of contradictions is a redundancy, considering its title. But when you follow the moving falsetto tenderness of There Goes My Baby ("I get the chills whenever I see your face") with a call for a girl to be your Little Freak ("let her put her hands in your pants"); or a poignant ballad like Papers (those filed for divorce, although "I can't deny how much I love you") with a dirty fest titled So Many Girls ("can't decide which one I'll be taking home"), then that's because something really nasty is happening with your thoughts.
And that is exactly the fuel that marks Usher's return to form. After 2008's Here I Stand, an album full of mid-tempo tracks that included some of the best songs of his career - Love In This Club, Moving Mountains - among a handful of fillers, this new record is the one where he goes out of his comfort zone and takes more risks, translating his own conflicting feelings into a sound that can be described as dirtier and more electronic. The basis is that kind of digital r&b which had a recent peak in Love vs. Money by The-Dream, the rest is the charisma of a superstar in a peculiar period of his own personal life.
So these days, beneath the über-stylish - and great - videos (check out below the one for OMG), it's actually all or nothing for Usher: no regrets about that divorce, just a bittersweet aftertaste, added to an urgent need to fill those sexual instincts. Which, btw, are apparently even stronger than ever. (8/10)

Usher - OMG (feat. Will.I.Am) (video)

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