Album Review: Nine Track MindWonkeyDude98 Mini-Description: In my ninth (track mind) album review, I juxtapose my previous review -- while trying to one-up SwagFlicks -- by reviewing Charlie Puth's debut: potentially the worst pop album I've heard in years.
Best Song: "Losing My Mind"
Worst Songs: "My Gospel", "Marvin Gaye" ft. Meghan Trainor", "Suffer", "Up All Night", "Left Right Left", "Dangerously", "We Don't Talk Anymore" ft. Selena Gomez, "As You Are" ft. Shy Carter, "One Call Away"
Hello everyone, WonkeyDude98 here, and...sigh...it's time to review the debut album from Charlie Puth titled Nine Track Mind. But first, a little background. Charlie Puth is a former YouTuber who got popular mainly for his covers and mind-numbingly silly nature. Then he got his first hit song featured by Wiz Khalifa on See You Again off the Fast and Furious soundtrack. And you know what? I actually thought that song was pretty great. Emotionally compact, came from a good place, versatile, and showed some hint of effort. Then came Marvin Gaye with Meghan Trainor, and....
I didn't hate it.
Now, make no mistake, at this point in time, I find it absolutely awful (we'll get to that later), but when I first heard it on the radio, I had no idea who Marvin Gaye was, and was attracted to the general aesthetics of the way it sounded, and thought that Puth and Trainor both delivered vocals pretty well. Then, after it got trashed on by the whole world at once, he dropped a new album called Nine Track Mind. Given the fact that I hated both Marvin Gaye and One Call Away, and it was getting thrashed HARD by critics, I had no expectations going into this. So what did I find?
Well, I got better than I expected....BECAUSE THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE ATROCITY FROM TOP TO BOTTOM.
The big question I ask about each aspect of this album is, "well, what about it?" This album falls flat on its face for everything it does, and most of that can be brought down to the writer, producer, and artist who created it, Charlie Puth himself. If there's one thing I absolutely can't stand about him, its his vocal lines and vocal tone. His voice itself is by definition flawless, but he's so emotionless and robotic, even when he's screaming his lungs out on songs like As You Are or My Gospel. He just feels so stiff and one-dimensional, he's the personification of a sun-boiled cup of water. It's not a chore to listen to, but it's definitely a chore to stay interested when he uses the same emotional tone transitioning from Left Right Left to Up All Night. It's
He's also this album's executive producer. You can tell. Because, like I said, you want me to talk about the instrumentation and production, well, WHAT ABOUT IT? I gave a lot of garbage to Rachel Platten's Wildfire for being bland and borderline lifeless except for two or three songs, but at least she had the courtesy to give the songs some energy and punch! Here, the production is so limp and formulaic, that everything runs into each other, even the most unbearable moments like the squealing on the bridge of We Don't Talk Anymore.
Of course, unbearable doesn't exactly describe the instrumentation, but that's probably even worse, since a lot of it ends up being forgettable and boring. From the clanking percussion overload on One Call Away, to the hollow patter of My Gospel, to the weird 50s doo-wop/grating trap of Marvin Gaye, the snoozefest piano line on Left Right Left, the muted guitars on We Don't Talk Anymore (fun fact: the guitar was recorded on an iPod before being converted into the mix), the clinking drum and thudding bassline on As You Are, the constant out-of-place vocal samples on Then There's You, the dull ballad madlibs in Up All Night, and probably most criminally the piano on Dangerously which sounds like the chord progression and melody were ripped straight from Grenade by Bruno Mars (we'll get to that later). Almost every composition on this album is astoundingly frail and thin, almost cheap at points, and definitely doesn't work with Puth's psuedo-soulful delivery.
But then we get to the big elephant in the room, and that's the lyrical content. Charlie Puth throughout this whole record is trying to sell himself as this ladies' man, this girl's own personal Superman, and even some sort of god in bed. But with his clean vocal tone, the flimsy production, and the safe writing and subtext, I can't buy it. It is quite the feat when a tribute to Marvin Gaye featuring the only currently working pop singer worse than Charlie Puth (Meghan Trainor) is NOT the worst lyrically on the album, despite having some of the most unflattering, most sanitized lyrics in a pop song ("kama sutra show and tell", "let's Marvin Gaye and get it on", "I'm screaming Mercy Mercy Please", "You got that healing that I want").
No, because that brings us to My Gospel, probably the worst song on the whole album, mainly because of the lyrics. Remember how I said the piano line of Dangerously sounded ripped from Bruno Mars' Grenade? Well, it seems like he wanted songs to take turns ripping it off, because this has almost the same lyrics as that song, except without the sense of drama, or self-awareness, and with nowhere near as good production. He says he would rob a bank of a million bucks and burn it on her front lawn casually to show her how much he cares, and then sell everything he owns to go to a casino and use his winnings to be a limo just so they can make out in the back. Ew. He's trying to make it sound flattering, but given all my previous points, it's just both creepy and insufferable. We also have the inSUFFERable Suffer, which is basically Charlie Puth "suffering" because he is not getting any dirty time with this girl. Dude, be quiet.
We also get the absolutely obnoxious As You Are, which hammers into all three of its verses (including the unnecessary feature from Shy Carter, which is like featuring Sean Paul on an Adele song) that Charlie and Shy would climb Mount Kilimanjaro a thousand times for this girl. Once or twice was enough, but...all three verses, one lf which is A GUEST VERSE ONLY BASED AROUND IT? Why?!
Honestly, the more I think about it, the more this record reminds me a lot of Maroon 5. No, not the versatile soul/rock of 2002 Maroon 5, or the slick funk of 2007 Maroon 5, or even the emotion of 2010 Maroon 5. No, the one I'm talking about is the watered down, forgettable, often times insufferable 2014 Maroon 5. I reviewed their atrocity V (and actually downplayed how much I hated that album), and the more I think about it, the more I realize Nine Track Mind reminds me of that album. Charlie Puth has the same stiff falsetto that Adam Levine does but without the impressive range, the same bland production but without being all that pleasing to the senses, and even a lot of the same specific aspects. Most notably, Losing My Mind is the exact same title of a Maroon 5 song from 2007, that was way better than this. Finally, the caterwauling on the bridge of My Gospel is identical to the one on the bridge of It Was Always You (the best song on V), except with the pitch correction it's even more grating.
But even with all of this, I still think there were positive elements to this album. I liked the retro-pop of Some Type of Love, even if it wasn't at all melodic. I mean, Losing My Mind? Probably the best song on the album. Despite some awkward vocal samples, it has a simple lyrical premise that's neither manipulative nor vain. And even if I personally hate it, I see the appeal in bland flattery and safe production....which is a little more terrifying than anything.
But, if this review was any indication, even if I see the appeal and acknowledge the good qualities of this album, I still can't leave off on an isolated note. Simply put, this is the worst pop album I've heard in years. It's bland, disingenuous, excessively white, incredibly thin, incoherent while still being repetitive, and completely sanitized. I could probably get some enjoyment out of the record if the production was good enough to save the terrible writing, but it isn't...
So, I'm just going to leave off by saying that I'm thinking a strong 1/10, and absolutely no recommendation! Think that's harsh? I'm just being honest. This is WonkeyDude98, and this Nine Track Mind has twelve tracks on it.
This tried way too hard to be an R&B album. Way too hard. - SwagFlicks
Yep. - WonkeyDude98
I do hate Suffer now, but you can't get me to hate One Call Away - ProPanda
I'm always right, and I'm glad I changed your mind.
How about this: it's a flat piece of monotonous, snooze-inducing bland garbage with some of the most disingenuous lyrics I've ever geard in tandem with Charlie Puth's hackney vocal performance that's both trying way too hard (Superman got nothing on me) and not hard enough (THE VOCALS) to sound romantic. Good enough? - WonkeyDude98
The song is simple, short and sweet. It tries to hard, and Puth hit the high notes pretty badly, but I really can't see anything but just plain sweet love in the lyrics (bar that absymal superman reference). The beat is good, and I can't call it a ripoff of See You Again, considering Puth produced that itself. It's just harmless, Weak GOOD TIER or Strong MEH TIER - ProPanda
I don't know what you see in this melody-less percussion clack. It never really builds up, and has no momentum or power.
Saying it isn't a ripoff because of who in particular produced it is like saying Work From Home isn't a DJ Mustard ripoff because DJ Mustard didn't produce it. As for the lyrics, I see the appeal, but the first verse is so awkward in structure and tone that it's actually kinda creepy. - WonkeyDude98
Since you said it got bad reviews, I decided to look at critic reviews on metacritic. I also looked at some other album reviews, and apparently critics actually liked SremmLife. Weird. Good review, by the way. - RalphBob
SremmLife got good reviews from everyone with half a brain cell. Thanks! - WonkeyDude98
Why is it Nine Track Mind if it has twelve songs? - RalphBob
Charlie Puth decided nine tracks of passive torture wasn't enough, I guess, unless the last three he doesn't even consider tracks. - WonkeyDude98
Best songs: 1 song
Worst songs: The rest of the album
Sounds pretty good to me lol - Martinglez
Actually, I didn't include Some Type Of Love or Then There's You in the worst songs.
Also, the only time I've done that is with SremmLife, except the ENTIRE tracklist was in "worst songs". - WonkeyDude98
Um..ok I guess... - Nateawesomeness
What the album is awesome - visitor
Eh. - SwagFlicks
Best Albums of All Time:
1) Sremmlife - Rae Sremmurd
2) Nine Track Mind - Charlie Puth
3) Thank You - Meghan Trainor
4) Fortune - Chris Brown
5) Abbey Road - The Beatles - visitor
Lel - WonkeyDude98
Umm I hate StemLife, 69 Track Mind, F**k You and Misfortune. - AlphaQ
I didn't say enough, but to be fair there are never enough words to describe this abomination. - WonkeyDude98