Artist: Demi Lovato
Label: Hollywood Records
Oh Demi. I don’t dislike you, you seem like a perfectly sweet girl. I know you’ve had your issues in the past and you once claimed to appreciate Dimmu Borgir. But seriously, what were you thinking? This album is terrible. Seriously. It’s like a lesson in how to start with something sub-par and then get progressively worse. What’s more, it’s almost insultingly long, dragging on for the better part of an hour and sounding worse and worse with each passing track. Best to go back to the drawing board, methinks.
We start with “All Night Long” which features Missy Elliott and Timbaland. There isn’t much to appreciate: the beat is relatively catchy but jarring, the vocals seem needy and desperate and massively out of place, and the addition of rapping later seems annoyingly predictable and doesn’t do much to redeem the song. “Who’s That Boy” (which features Dev) has the same r’n’b vibes that permeated the first song – Lovato has said she was aiming for a more soul-oriented sound on this one and bless her, she has tried, but failed to consider that it doesn’t suit her at all. This song is so slickly made it’s actually offputting, but very firmly chart, and will probably track well with the public. The vocals are distorted which makes it too artificial and it doesn’t change much throughout so there’s nothing to pique one’s interest. The one thing that springs to mind about “Together” (the first four songs all have guest appearances, and this one involves Jason Derulo) is the need to jettison the horrid drum template. In all honesty, that sample was on my first keyboard, which I got when I was 12, and is very old news. Lovato’s voice is nice and sweet, but it’s far too saccharine for what she’s aiming for here and Derulo’s inclusion is actually the song’s only saving grace. He seems more confident and suited to this style of music, and manages to alleviate the song above the dullness of its basics.
“Lightweight” is a ballad, relatively slow with a gentle ascending string scale to back things up. It’s poppy but incredibly boring; Lovato is relying too heavily on her singing and it just won’t carry the entire affair. “Give Your Heart A Break” is another attempt at pop infusions – the opening outlay sounds like it was nicked from Coldplay (which isn’t a good thing) though it otherwise sticks steadfastly to a standard and formulaic pop template. There’s a slow verse and faster chorus and lots of simmering feelings, but no real sense of life. “Skyscraper” has a piano that hints at eloquence and seems to have designs on a better class of track. Lovato’s vocals are hushed and indicate all kinds of intensive feelings – they suit this track’s overall sound a little better than elsewhere but the whole affair still reeks too intensely of sticking to a mould. You know, sad songs 101 with string samples and a bittersweet atmosphere painted over the top for gloss. It’s aiming for tenderness, and may speak to someone, but mostly it’s just boring.
Lovato’s attempts at more dance-oriented music work a little better (emphasis on ‘a little’). “Unbroken” for instance actually has a full and proper sound to frame it – certain other tracks are so basic and dull you’d be forgiven for thinking they were demos. This one uses a distorted intro and mixes in bits and pieces of electro and synth, finally indicating some form of musical ambition instead of just random noise topped with singing. There’s also an actual beat which is helpful, and although the chorus interrupts momentum rather than building it, the track is quite catchy and more animated. “Hold Up” doesn’t work as well – it’s similarly dance-oriented, but opens badly and never finds a way to redeem itself. The beat is plausible, but once again her vocals are at fault, discomfited and giving the track something of a sloppy, amateurish vibe.
There’s nothing exceedingly different in the other tracks, so I may leave it there. Lovato has tried, to her credit, to make something a bit at odds with her poptastic roots but this album is best described as a slight case of misdirection. She’s flexed her fingers, but the overall impression is of someone a bit lost and possibly too young or inexperienced for this kind of sound. Her vocals need work to blend in here, and the whole thing is far too long, but with a bit more development she may succeed in these ventures in future. That, or stick to the pop rock winning formula that won her an audience to begin with.
Review written by Grace Duffy