Words by Edward T. Bowser, SoulInStereo.com
I think some of y’all have been too hard on Robin Thicke.
Yes, I know Paula – Thicke’s seventh album and very public attempt to win back the heart of (allegedly) estranged wife Paula Patton – comes off as a bit desperate.
And depressing. And kinda creepy.
But I’m not here to play marriage counselor – I’m here for the music. And let’s face facts: For decades, great music has been produced from sorrow.
In the case of Paula, is Thicke’s pain our pleasure?
No. It is not.
Paula should have been an emotional rollercoaster, rooted in regret or anger or depression – something. Instead, Thicke just plays the sympathy card – the wounded puppy whimpering and begging for attention. It’s nearly impossible to get invested in the music.
The opener “You’re My Fantasy” depicts what’s to come – the Latin-themed guitar licks are interesting but Thicke’s performance is just so dull and uninspired. The album’s arrangements are wasted when Thicke sounds like he’d rather be under the bed sheets eating ice cream.
“Get Her Back” and “Still Madly Crazy” are more of the same, with Thicke nearly on his knees in the latter. Still, the listener isn’t convinced. Even when the tempo raises with the big-band brass of “Living In New York City” and “Tippy Toes,” Thicke’s vocals still sound forced and lifeless. In fact, the modicum of excitement from the album comes solely from his background singers, who bring a spark of life to tracks like “Too Little Too Late” all on their own.
I hope Thicke cut those ladies a decent check. Without ‘em I would have been in a coma by Track 8.
The second half of the album is slightly more interesting but still full of faults. “Black Tar Cloud” paints the story of Thicke’s girl trying to behead him with a golf club, with subtle stomps accenting bass guitar notes. Too bad that good will is ruined by ridiculous lyrics: “Thought that everyone was gonna eat the chip/ Turns out I’m the only one who double-dipped.”
Huh? Did 2 Chainz cowrite this song?
Thankfully, “The Opposite of Me” has stronger writing: “All that she wants is honesty, all that she wants is the opposite of me…All she wants is action, not the words.” And the closing ballad “Forever Love” is probably the only song that feels genuinely emotional.
Sadly, those cases above are rare. Thicke’s problem with Paula (the album, not the actress, of course) is that nearly every song sounds like what he wants his wife to hear, rather than true, heartfelt apology.
I don’t know if Thicke’s marital problems are legit or if they’re a sham to sell records. Bottom line, that’s pretty irrelevant. What I do know is that Paula should have been an emotional experience. Instead it sounds like Thicke is just going through the motions.
Best tracks: “Forever Love” and, uhhhh, “You’re My Fantasy,” I guess. That’s all I got, playa.
2.5 stars out of 5