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Mariah - E=MC2

Mariah, E=MC2

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

YOU have to hand it to Mariah Carey. Since breaking down in 2001 and being hospitalised following a mental breakdown, the artist has re-emerged and re-established herself as a major musical force.

Just recently, she broke Elvis Presley’s US chart record by scoring the 18th number one of her career, with Touch My Body, the first single from her 11th studio album, E=MC2.

Quite what makes her so, so popular remains a mystery. But her career highs are a lesson to every major star in therapy that big, positive things can happen if you can get yourself back on track.

Musically, I have to admit I can take or leave her. The latest album continues to explore the hip-hop infused, R’n‘B style that has been a feature of her music lately. It’s at its best when keeping the tempo upbeat and urgent; less so when she drifts into ballad mode.

There’s a slickness about proceedings that’s undeniable, as well as a sense of fun that suggests Mariah is, at least, comfortable with her own image and success.

Her ridiculously high pitched voice is tested playfully on several occasions, while there are numerous potshots at her own self, whether it’s comparing herself to ice cream (yummy), her favourite jeans (probably a tight squeeze) or a chandelier (an illuminating insight?).

She also sings in Italian, French and Spanish on one song, just to underline her talent, as well as to appeal to each of those markets in her own special way.

But for every song that makes its mark, there’s plenty that just seem to be coasting on the familiar – and that prevents E=MC2 from being anything other than average.

Things open promisingly enough with a Snow White style vocal melody that is quickly overtaken by some urban, grimy hip-hop synths, finger-clicking back beats and a nice set of support vocals from T-Pain.

But as good as Migrate is, it’s still not adventurous enough in the same way that Madonna continually re-invents herself. Check out 4 Minutes compared to Migrate – the gap is vast because while Madonna excites by exploring new avenues, Mariah seems content to play to formula (the MC2 of the title?).

That said, I liked the easy-going jammin’ style of Cruise Control that drops a nice set of background vocals from Damian Marley, the harder hip hop of Side Effects with Young Jeezy, the disco bounce of I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time and the upbeat party vibe of OOC.

Elsewhere, though, the album just drifts along without doing anything special or different – the distinct vocals effortlessly working in tandem with the slick beats and production values, and dropping ballads like they were going out of fashion.

Given her record-breaking status, you kind of wish this album did a lot more.

Download picks: Migrate, Cruise Control, OOC, Side Effects, I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time

Track listing:

  1. Migrate – Mariah Carey & T-Pain
  2. Touch My Body
  3. Cruise Control – Mariah Carey & Damian Marley
  4. I Stay In Love
  5. Side Effects – Mariah Carey & Young Jeezy
  6. I’m That Chick
  7. Love Story
  8. I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time
  9. Last Kiss
  10. Thanx 4 Nothin’
  11. OOC
  12. For The Record
  13. Bye Bye
  14. I Wish You Well
  15. Heat