Album review: Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’: Let’s talk about sex

07.30.13 4 years ago

If Justin Timberlake”s “The 20/20 Experience” left you longing for short, punchy R&B-based tunes instead of the extended jams, then Robin Thicke”s “Blurred Lines,” out today, is the album for you.
While there”s nothing on here that”s likely to challenge insanely catchy  “Blurred Lines'” run atop the Hot 100 (a 2013 record-setting seven weeks and counting), there”s a lot here to like. At times, the album feels more like it belongs to the producers and their beats more than to Thicke, such as on “Take It Easy On Me, ” which sounds almost as if he”s an extra in his own song. But then a tune like “Ooh La La” or “Ain”t No Hat 4 That” comes along, so steeped in ’70s R&B, with his creamy vocals soaring over the retro rhythms, that you”ll be looking for a disco ball to drop from the ceiling. “Get In My Way” is a modern-day “Ain”t No Stopping Us Now.”

Thicke has talked in interviews about his decision to ditch the ballads and stick to the uptempo tracks on “Lines.” It”s a formula that works very satisfactorily here. There”s a lightness to the tunes here that is uniformly appealing, greatly aided by such capable hands (and ears) as Timbaland, Pharrell, will.i.am,  Dr. Luke, and Projay. It”s one of those albums that you will throw on at a party and not feel the need to change the music until all 11 tracks have gone by.

While Thicke seems to have a fascination with sex, the better tracks here discard the explicit horndoggery vibe. Ones that don”t often suffer for stressing it so singlemindedly.  For example,  “Give It 2 U,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, has a great hook and feel (thanks to Dr. Luke and Cirkut”s programming). but the relentless focus on male body parts makes the song monotonous.

Thicke”s falsetto is put to good use, though it”s easy to wish there were more tunes where he got to sing more instead of compete with the beats or sing in short bursts. The Prince-like “4 The Rest Of My Life,” the closest the album comes to a ballad, is one of the few tunes where Thicke gets to do his thing throughout, both in falsetto and in his lower range. Same with closing track, “The Good Life,” the most traditional verse-chorus song on the album. It”s in striking contrast to much of the rest of the set, yet somehow manages to still fit right in, perhaps because of the upbeat tone.

There are no deep thoughts here. “Blurred Lines” doesn”t pretend to be anything more than a sexy party album meant to get you in a good mood or keep you there for a bit longer. And by that measure, there”s nothing  blurred about its message, whatsoever.

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