Imperfections are in the eye of the beholder. You can see them as flaws, or as the very qualities that make us human -- and that make us strive to be better people in search of a perfection that we know we can never fully achieve. In the thirteen songs … see full wiki
Mariah Carey's 12th studio album "Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel" is different from her most recent musical releases. Upon first listening to this release, I didn't like it. It lacked the upbeat, celebratory, playful Mariah that "The Emancipation of Mimi" ushered in; the album didn't have as many radio friendly songs as "E=MC2" had. "Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel" features a very mature-sounding artist. The pop/hip-hop sound that is heavy on her most recent releases, including the lead single 'Obsessed', isn't really present on this release. If I had to describe this to album to a Mariah fanatic, I would say this release is a hybrid of the ballad/slow jams from "Butterfly", with a vibe of the "Rainbow" album. Vocally, it's on level with "Rainbow", "Emancipation of Mimi", "E=MC2" -- Yes, she still sings, and yes 'the voice' is still there and very present but she stays in a mid-range/throaty vocal range with the high-notes being woven into the background rather than being up-front and on display. This may be a turn-off for some fans who want the Mariah Carey from the early 1990s back; but I can say after a few listens, I think "Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel" has more of a backbone than "E=MC2" and has a much stronger theme and concept that bring all the songs together, a strength that I felt was missing from "Emancipation of Mimi."
The Good: I like that this is Carey's first real attempt at tackling a theme album. Each song deals with love or a relationship and in many ways, the album goes from heartache/breakup and pessimism toward finding love and a perfect lover to ending on a high note with, strangely enough, classic Mariah back on display with high notes, wide range and feeling more open and expressive. To me, the theme and the fact that every song deals with another aspect of love or a relationship made this album far more coherent and stronger than some of her more recent albums. In many ways, this is an album of ballads; many that sound as if they've been crafted over the course of the past few albums she's done but are just now being released. I also enjoyed that finally Carey ventured into new musical territory. While "Mimi" and "E=MC2" were good, they felt very safe and far too generic. The music featured on "Memoirs" is truly different; you notice she's taken a new musical direction from the very dark/moody 'Betcha Gon' Know' and on the gospel-tinged "I Want To Know What Love Is" and "Angels Cry". There were only a few songs that felt boring. Unlike on "E=MC2", though you can tell Carey's fascination of love and relationships is inspired by her personal life, the songs aren't all sappy and loving; there's the good love, the breakup, the anger, the hurt and optimism that comes with trying to find love and falling for someone all on display. Mariah's song writing skills are also on display; yes, some of the lyrics are simple and uncomplicated and a little child-like (the many references and comparisons of love to that of food, for example) but I found the music, lyrically and instrumental-wise, far more fresh and polished than on the past two or three albums.
The Bad: One of my complaints is that while many of the songs are good, they feel as if they are building to something only to be clipped off or ended abruptly. 'More Than Just Friends' is a fun, upbeat songs (one of the few on the album) and just as Mariah is getting into the song and letting her voice go, the song fades out and just ends and the next song starts up and leaves the last thought/song unfinished. It gives the album a big of a choppy feel. I'd have liked it if the songs would have more easily segued into one another as 'Languishing' fades into 'I Want To Know What Love Is'. The sequencing of the album is okay but some songs felt a bit out of place in the line-up. To go from the moody/stirring 'Betcha Gon' Know' to the stark, hip-hop 'Obsessed' when 'H.A.T.E.U.' or 'It's a Wrap' better finishes the theme/thought introduced in 'Betcha Gon' Know' sort of perplexed me. Or, the album version of 'I Want To Know With' edits out the sparkling, classic Mariah vocals and high notes in the closing section that's present in the raido edit. Why? Packaging wise, I wasn't crazy about the cover or the fact that there's a mini advertisement for ELLE magazine included with a feature about Mariah's relationship with Nick Cannon and pushing some other products. I liked that this was 2-cds but I'd have been more interested in either having more songs, or different takes, interpretations, remixes of various tracks than to basically be given the 'Obsessed' maxi single. To me, it gives "Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel" a cheap, manufactured pure commercial product feel when that isn't the vibe of the album at all.
In all, I highly recommend this album. It has a few 'imperfections' but when you get down to it, I feel the music itself is some of Mariah Carey's best work of the 2000s and showed how she's maturing and starting to take a few more chances with her music. "Memoirs" feels like a bold statement and move for her; there's no carbon copies of the sound or music that made " ... Mimi" a big hit; it's less commercial than the radio-friendly "E=MC2". This may be what will make "Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel" either one of the best albums (thus far) of her career or the most underrated. Either way, don't fall victim to the lack of promotion or bad press; this album is not a flop, it is not bad, it is worth purchasing and listening to. Check it out.
Listen To These Tracks: 'H.A.T.E.U.', 'Ribbon', 'It's A Wrap', 'More Than Just Friends'
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