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The singer just seems burnt-out, fixated too much on singing of love instead of focusing on other themes that expand his musical catalog (Photo provided via @charlieputh on Instagram).

Album Review: ‘CHARLIE’ is nothing special

It’s been a while since Charlie Puth has released new music, four years to be exact. Now, most people know the singer, songwriter and producer through TikTok, notorious for posting thirst traps and song challenges. Yet, just because he’s gone viral on the app doesn’t mean his musical career has been thrown onto the back burner.

Finally, Puth is back with “CHARLIE,” his third studio album. Yet, there’s no sense of growth with this work, no true development in the singer’s sound or production, but there are still some songs that prove Puth’s ability to make a perfect pop song.

The singer centers the whole album around relationships, love and something he’s known to incorporate into his music almost always: sex. These themes are almost redundant, as Puth’s last album, “Voicenotes,” explored his insecurities, failed dating history and lack of sympathy for his past exes. 

While Puth is an incredible producer outside of his own music career, he loses himself in the new 12 tracks that make up “CHARLIE,” and it sounds like he’s trying too hard to make music that will catch the attention of young female TikTok users everywhere, falling into the trope of the stereotypical male pop singer.

Songs that fit this trope, pop ballads that have a catchy hook and repetitive lyrics, are by far the opening track, “That’s Hilarious” and “Light Switch.” While the latter is actually an upbeat, fast-paced display of Puth’s wit and organized harmonies, the opener is sadly nothing special. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, which gets more annoying overtime, which is that the singer is heartbroken and done with love – at least so he thinks.

Thankfully, there are tracks that save this album from being an utter disappointment. In particular, “Smells Like Me” is a track reminiscent of a song you’d hear in a romantic-comedy soundtrack, except Puth plays the role of the lover who knew he let the one for him get away. Its lyrics also redeem Puth for just a split second on the album, a perfect fit within the storyline of the song. “I hope the memory's killin' you over there / Don't even front, you know that you just can't compare / What it used to be / I hope your jacket smells like me,” may just be one of the best choruses on the whole album.

“Charlie Be Quiet!” is another track that saves Puth as well, bringing in elements of electric guitar and rock music to admit he may be in love. The singer starts off singing quietly, barely audible until the chorus explodes into an array of passion and inner longing for someone of interest. “Charlie, be quiet, don't make a sound / You got to lower the noise a little bit now / If she knows you're in love, she's gonna run, run away-ay-ay-ay” is a catchy chorus, reminding listeners that Puth can have impressive vocal runs and a sense of personality in his music.

Yet, the track that is the staple of the album is “Left and Right (feat. Jung Kook of BTS).” This song is an interesting collaboration between Puth and Kook, as both singers bridge the gap between American and Korean pop music. While their vocal styles are completely different, they manage to meld together beautifully, emitting a sense of nostalgia as the duo sing of not being able to rid themselves of a past lover.

Similar to his previous albums, Puth once again integrates sounds of the 1970s and 1980s, a recent trend seen in the pop genre as artists are sampling and using production imitating the sounds of both decades. This trend is seen especially in tracks such as “There’s A First Time For Everything” and “Marks On My Neck.” Sadly, it feels like you’re listening to a washed-up version of the singer, almost as if he didn’t really try to push himself outside the box this time around.

Another failure on the album is the only acoustic song, “When You’re Sad I’m Sad.” Clearly, Puth loves to play around with synthesizers a little too much, as its entirety just consists of layered harmonies, warped and dubbed over to make it sound like a robot is singing to you. Maybe it’s intentional in order to execute a relationship that needs to end, but it’s honestly just annoying to see Puth’s talent go to waste on this track.

Overall, “CHARLIE” is not a success for Charlie Puth, as much as I hate to say it. It’s hard not to compare this album to “Voicenotes,” his sophomore album, which was filled with No.1 singles and stories that were relatable and not overdone. The singer just seems burnt-out, fixated too much on singing of love instead of focusing on other themes that expand his musical catalog. Basically, this album only has a mere few standouts, and those are all listeners should consider listening to.

Ranking: 2/5 


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