Album: Mariah Carey – “Charmbracelet” (2002)

Oh… wow. OK I knew this would be a tough one, despite the horrors of Glitter. Even at the time this felt like a bit of a non-starter, despite my inner rubbishgai quite liking the lead single at the time. I might have even bought this too, though God knows I didn’t remember anything about it. So we plunge the depths now, with a bloated, overlong slurry of ballads with a sprinkle of rent-a-rappers. Joy!

07 Through the rain – Lead single first … but really? Loverboy was a MESS but at least there was something to it (something awful). This is just a pretty weak-assed ballad, with the whisper register taking care of the vox. Melodically it’s quite nice really, pretty classic old-school ballad Mariah, but her voice just sounds so strained and whiny. It’s a decent tune, but the climax just doesn’t have enough to it.

08 Boy (I need you) – I actually quite like this, it’s probably what sold me the album in the first place, with a cutesy Manga-style video. The weird sample instrumentation, as well as the high-pitched “BOI” bits come together well, at least leaving me with a memorable experience. Cam’Ron doesn’t add much to it, I guess that was important to sell it to the US, and in fairness it does break up the song a bit. JUST about single material, but that’s really pushing it.

07 The One – Generic RnB time, with an uneventful intro and more anonymous-sounding rappers. Her voice is still a bit weak and hushed, but the chorus is pretty catchy at least. Only catch about half the words in the verses, but there’s a nice tune in there somewhere. I should enjoy it while I can, there is certainly worse on this album.

06 Yours – Where is her voice? *sigh* I think that’s the thing I’m having the most trouble coming to terms with during this album. Frankly I’d lost interest after about a minute here, and there’s still four left to go. Ack. There is some melody in there, but it feels totally random, how can she even sing along to this, it’s all over the place! YAWN.

07 You got me – That squeaky “BOI” voice is back, and fortunately Jay-Z joins the action. Rap isn’t my thing but I do quite like him at least. Freeway gets FAR too much spotlight here, the first quarter it pretty much just him. Vocals aren’t really there, she’s singing backing vocals to a voice effect sample. I like the guitar riff thing, it’s the basis for a good song, but it doesn’t feel like everything’s in there yet.

08 I only wanted – This is a bit more like it. A bit of a pale shadow of the type of song “My All” was, but the effort is appreciated. We’ve got some rather sombre piano in the background, some standardish Unbreak My Heart melody, it’s not bad. In fact I’m surprised to not see Diane Warren in the credits now I’ve checked. She’s got some RANGE on this too, and even opens up the VOX towards the end, instead of being pinned against the ceiling of her whisper register. APPROVED.

07 Clown – There are these people called haterz apparently. Mimi has a bug-a-boo who is getting all obsessed with her, how awful. Who’s this one about then? Not really bringing any ferocity here, but she gets her message across here, even if it is via the usual karma cliches. One of the songs I actually REMEMBER afterwards, something of a rarity.

05 My saving grace – God this takes a while to get going. At least it DOES, sort of. God this is boring, I can’t even remember how the first minute was more boring. Sorry, I can’t think of anything to say about this *flatlines*

07 You had your chance – OK I’m still here, another rapper joins the fray too. I like the backing music, is that a BEAT finally? The “We used to be cloooose” bits are good, even if the choruses they lead to don’t really lead to much. Don’t TRIFLE with Mumu, otherwise you’ll find yourself on the business end of a weak-assed answer record like this. It does have a lot right with it, even if I’m hardly excited about it. Is that a MIDDLE 8? That really shouldn’t be cause for celebration, but it is.

04 Lullaby – Feel like we’ve slid back to where we were at the start, one-tone whine-vox. I’m really getting tired of this, I’m finding it incredibly hard to listen to what she’s singing. It’s the most basic production, it’s just a big beige mass of audio porridge.

07 Irresistible (West Side Connection) – It’s sad when I’m looking forward to the rappers. But what’s that? A MELODY, A CHORUS? Some squirly RnB sample too? Well so far, so good. It’s not even THAT great, just a massive improvement on some of drivel I’ve been listening to for the last 20 minutes. It’s like a slower not-as-good cousin of Fantasy, maybe. It’s alright.

06 Subtle Invitation – A bit more of a jazzy summery track now, has something to it as least, even if this isn’t the sort of music that gets me going. The trumpetty sample thing is alright, but the choruses seem few and far between. BORING.

08 Bringin on the heartbreak – A good song finally, and it’s a bloody Def Leppard cover. I mean where did THAT come from? Maybe this highlights just how little of this album I got on with, a song by someone totally uninvolved with the album steals the show. Not that it was difficult to do that. That said, it’s not an masterpiece or anything, just has a few good moments – the strings in the bridges, the chorus – though it does feel a bit anticlimactic, like the gospel choir all have laryngitis for most of the song. It does build up a bit right at the end, and that saves it, but this could have been a much tighter edit I think.

06 Sunflowers for Alfred Roy – I’ve just looked this up, and it’s her late father. You’d think in such an overblown mess as this album, he’d get more than 3 minutes. It’s a nice enough tune but still feels like filler. For what I’m sure was an important song for her, it’s rather nondescript.

05 Through the rain (remix) – Well this just about sums things up, take a nice enough song with not that much to it, and replace any glimmer of voxicity with bland walls of strained sigh vocals. They certainly sucked anything good out of this one, just makes me angry considering how I at least SORT of liked the original. Totally unnecessary.

AGH. No wonder one of you called it Harmbracelet. A REAL drag, and the most bloated album by far. I’m hoping this is rock bottom, and I’m really putting a lot of faith in being emancipated during the next album. I’m sorry if the review seemed nondescript and repetitive, but I suppose that’s all I had to work with. Really disappointing. I mean I’ve never been a massive RnB fan, which begs the question of why I’m doing Mariah, but this just feels like lazy music devoid of inspiration, and containing more filler than a kilo of veggie-burgers. SLOW DEATH.

Keepers for the iPod: Bringin on the heartbreak


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