January 29, 2023
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Life & Culture

Review: Pop tracks starved of emotion and meaning

"Nine Track Mind"

Charlie Puth

Charlie Puth’s 12-track debut album, “Nine Track Mind,” has all pop hits, little depth and a severe lack of emotional connection with its listeners.

Puth’s smooth, melodic voice is not powerful or impactful on his tracks. The album overall leaves much to be desired with its lack of depth and lack of emotionally provoking lyrics and songs. Granted, some of the tracks are fun and easy to listen to and will most likely become Billboard hits, but the songs only seem good on the surface. It would have been better if the lyrics, instrumentals and vocals had actually tugged on the heartstrings of listeners instead of leaving them wanting more from Puth.

On “Nine Track Mind,” many people may recognize Puth’s hit duet, “Marvin Gaye,” with Meghan Trainor. This song was a chart topper, probably because of its catchy instrumentals and repetitive lyrics that made it easy to sing along to. However, regardless of its popular status, the song severely lacks good musicianship.

The collaborative track with Selena Gomez, “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” is this album’s best song because the lyrics, though still somewhat superficial, are deeper than any other track on Puth’s album. Gomez’s charming voice also helps to bring a new dramatic and emotional layer to the song and album. The instrumentals are light and fun, but listeners may be able to connect to these lyrics as well, especially if they can understand the difficulty of getting over a romantic relationship. The words also remind the audience of the well-known and messy relationship between Gomez and her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Justin Bieber. Gomez’s vocals add a new twist and breath of fresh air to the similar vocals Puth seems to have on every song.

Perhaps cheesy romantics and those fully invested in the popmusic culture will thoroughly enjoy Puth’s preppy album. Puth’s enjoyable voice is the most frustrating part of this album because if he wanted to, he could produce some emotional, heartfelt tracks, similar to other talented pop artists such as Sam Smith. Puth laid down the beautiful vocals for Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again,” the emotional main track from “Furious 7.”

For “See You Again,” Puth did intrigue and ignite emotions for listeners, but that effect seemed to be absent from his first album. Perhaps Puth’s sound will change once he gets a few more pop hits on his record, but for now, all listeners can do is sit and wait for this cheesy production to end.

Ashley Wolf can be reached at awolf2@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @@ashleyjcwolf