Robin Thicke "Something Else" Album Review
Robin Thicke is one well-rounded dude.
Not only does he have a real sense of what stimulating soul music should sound like, he also has a crystal vision of what a better world should look like.
And on Something Else, he lays it on Thicke.
That smooth falsetto that made A Beautiful World and The Evolution of Robin Thicke, his first two releases, so compelling, is back in full regalia on album number three.
Something Else manages to meld the best of his first two albums, while also finding its own niche in Thicke’s ever-expanding canon.
The album also enjoyed commercial success right out of the box, as it debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 charts.
And it’s really not hard to understand the appeal of this disc.
It’s basically easy, non-threatening music that is a throwback to the healing sounds of 1970s soul – the kind of music that creates its own mood and is a pleasure to listen under any number of circumstances.
That’s Thicke’s sense of how stimulating soul should go down. Smooth and easy, baby.
And his vision of the ultimate world?
That can be found on “Dreamworld” one of the true highlights of Something Else.
“I would be you/you would be me/we would be one/we would be just fine.”
That’s how things would be if Thicke called the shots on this ole’ earth.
No black, white, red or yellow, no violence, no social ills. Just everyone as one.
Thicke also delivers this touching line in the bluesy, southern ballad – “I would say Marvin Gaye/your father didn’t want you to die.”
Gaye is someone that Thicke obviously idolizes and the way both singers love the upper register of their voices verifies that.
Thicke’s vocals seem to get better – more seasoned, more mature – with every outing.
And those vocals are pushed to the forefront on Something Else.
But as prominent a space as Thicke’s voice occupies on Something Else, the music matches it step-for-step. Which is a good thing.
The smartly-arranged tunes have a bit of everything – from cool congas to tasty guitar to swirling strings, to soft rock, to a touch of Brazilian bounce. That keeps things from sounding too predictable and also keeps the tunes from becoming just so much background music.
The mood is established quickly with “You’re my Baby,” the album-opener.
After a rising of lush strings, an understated beat pulses along as Thicke promises his only baby to protect against the “monsters in the closet” and end the night with “a sweet kiss goodnight.” This cut wouldn’t be out of place as a lullaby.
“Sidestep” wanders close to R. Kelly territory, but it’s R. Kelly peppered with a bit of Boz Skaggs from the Silk Degrees era of the mid-70s. Nothing wrong with that.
The first single, “Magic” dances along to a pseudo-disco beat and it danced it’s way to number two on the Urban Adult Contemporary charts.
Next up, “Ms. Harmony” uses some deft Joe Pass/Wes Montgomery licks to pull you into its orbit.
There’s even a couple of up-tempo, rocking tracks to juggle the pace a bit – “Hard on my Love” and the title track, “Something Else.”
Matter of fact, “Something Else” sounds like it could have been left off from the Rolling Stones’ late-70s masterpiece, Some Girls.
Winding things down to a slow-jam level is “Cry no More,” an excellent tune that almost has an anthem-like quality to it.
Lil’ Wayne shows up to add some spice to Something Else, and he represents New Orleans on “Tie my Hands.”
This track about the struggles of fame was also on Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter III, which explains why Thicke takes a back seat on the cut, letting Lil’ Wayne do his thang.
While having Lil’ Wayne on a track might seem out of character for the rest of Something Else, when all is said and done, it makes perfect sense.
Because what Thicke has managed to do on his third release is shuffle the deck a bit and hit his listeners with a touch of everything.
Old-school in spirit, Something Else still manages to have a modern feel to it and also leaves one wondering what tricks Thicke might have planned for album number four.
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