Friday, April 11, 2008

Rave Reviews For E=MC²

Entertainment Weekly
by Margeaux Watson
April 18, 2008

Mariah Carey
E=MC² (Island Def Jam)

Winning Formula. Mariah Carey's E=MC² adds up to an aural success, offering a smart mix of dance and drama.

Daydream. Butterfly. Rainbow. Glitter. No, those aren't the names of Barbie's pet ponies, they're the ridiculously saccharine titles of Mariah Carey's albums from 1995 to 2001. So when she called her 10th studio CD The Emancipation of Mimi three years ago, it was clear that she intended to drop the cutesy shtick, let down her weave, and start getting real. It was a clever move.

Emancipation was the lucky strike that updated Carey's sound with bass-heavy flavor and reversed the downward spiral of her sales. Now, with E=MC²--another bold title--she's out to prove that her comeback was no fluke.

Of course, it's doubtful that Carey is a secret admirer of Einstein's theory of relativity, but one thing's for sure: The golden-throated diva has discovered a formula that works. Not unlike Emancipation, E=MC² finds Carey stacking the deck with the hottest producers and guest artist in urban music (Jermaine Dupri, StarGate, T-Pain, Damian Marley, Young Jeezy). The result is a largely enjoyable mix of flirtatious club jams, midtempo love songs, and emotional ballads anchored by hip-hop beats that handsomely showcase the singer's powerful vocal chops.

Ever the party girl, Carey opens the album with the sleek and seductive "Migrate," where she imagines getting buzzed on pinot grigio during a night out with the ladies. Other dancefloor anthems include "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time" and "O.O.C.," which, for all of their pop polish, never lose their soulful spirit. But it's not all about velvet ropes and playful come-ons; notably, Carey suffers from a major love hangover on "Side Effects," a synthy cautionary tale about an abusive relationship. "Wakin' up scared some nights still dreaming 'bout the violent times," she sings with outspoken intensity.

And yet Carey remains a romantic at heart. With the ballads "Love Story" and "Last Kiss," she reunites with Dupri to recapture the passionate splendor of 2005's "We Belong Together." It's unfortunate, then, that E=MC² closes with its only missteps, the somber elegy "Bye Bye"--an odd choice for the follow-up single to the cheeky hit "Touch My Body"--and the preachy gospel hymn "I Wish You Well" (this CD's version of Emancipation's "Fly Like a Bird"). Still, for an artist whose career was all but dead four years ago, Carey is wise to play it safe by building on the finest elements of her last CD. Were it not for the final two tracks, she could've gotten away with calling this album Treasure.


People Magazine
by Chuck Arnold
April 21, 2008

Mariah Carey

Pop goddess Mariah Carey scaled Oympian heights with her last album 2005's Grammy-winning, 6-million-selling The Emancipation of Mimi. Certainly, E=MC² doesn't equal its predecessor. Still, this is a satisfying follow-up, heavy on hip-hop-flavored midtempo jams (like the irressistible No. 1 hit "Touch My Body") and beat-driven ballads (best is the pretty, piano-laced "I Stay In Love"). The disc occasionally strays from that formula on cuts like the churchy closer "I Wish You Well."

But the highlight is "Side Effects," the CD's darkest and most personal track, which seems to allude to Carey's failed marriage to music exec Tommy Mottola: "Sleeping with the enemy/Aware that he was smothering every last part of me." Vaguely menacing, it shows that even pop goddesses have their demons.


Miami Herald
by Michael Hamersly
April 11, 2008

Mariah Carey

After bizarre meltdowns and questionable career choices early in this decade, Mariah Carey came back with a bang in 2005 with her album The Emancipation of Mimi, which gave us the hits Shake It Off, Don't Forget About Us and We Belong Together. Now, the songbird proves her comeback was no fluke with E=MC².

Carey has toned down her five-octave range a bit, but purists need not worry -- her voice has lost none of its power.

The album starts off poorly, with the monotone Migrate offering wannabe hip-hop lines such as "From the car into the club we migrate/From the bar to VIP we migrate/From the party to the afterparty migrate/Afterparty to hotel -- migrate" and a stunted, hesitant rap by T-Pain. But the first single, the slinky slow jam Touch My Body, unleashes Mariah's inner vamp. It's a shameless sex anthem, with talk of Mariah wrapping her legs around a guy's waist and begging for him to "give me what I deserve," but somehow, her angelic voice makes it all sound almost innocent.

On Cruise Control, Mariah teams up with new-school reggae royalty Damian Marley, who contributes a short but rhythmic rap. The song is more than a bit silly -- it spells out C-R-U-I-S-E control, for some reason, and Mariah tries to pull off a Jamaican accent ("He's the flyest ting") -- but it's pleasing and flows nicely. I'm That Chick cops the slick, cool funk of Forget Me Nots -- its cleverly minimalist bassline somehow uses exactly one note, but perfectly anchors the groove. The appealing ballad Last Kiss serves up Mariah's trademark hopeful romance: "This feeling is too good to miss/Ain't no kiss ever gonna be our last kiss," while Love Story aims for the anthemic heft of We Belong Together and doesn't miss by much.

But the album's high point finds Mariah softly and sweetly lamenting the loss of any kind of loved one on the truly touching Bye Bye: "This is for my peoples who just lost somebody/Your best friend, your baby, your man or your lady/Put your hand way up high/We will never say bye."

Thankfully, it looks like we won't be saying "bye" to Mariah for a long time.

Pod Picks: Touch My Body, Last Kiss, Bye Bye.

No comments: