It can be difficult to find two new releases that can be reviewed alongside each other, especially if there are a handful of albums I want to get to. So really, I took a shortcut here. Toni Braxton and Babyface’s R&B doesn’t have much in common with Katy B’s electropop, and I’m not going to pretend like it does. So let’s just say that I’m reviewing these albums alongside each other because Braxton and Katy B can both be described as divas of sorts. Now, on to the reviews.
Toni Braxton & Babyface: “Love, Marriage & Divorce” (Motown) Admittedly, I’m not as familiar as I should be with either artist, but it doesn’t take an obsessed fan to hear how marvelous this devastating collection of songs is.
As the title indicates, it’s a concept album about the rise and fall of a relationship. But like the opening track claims, love is like a roller coaster. It’s not a straight line from love to marriage to divorce, and the album captures the ups and downs with perfection. This structure also allows a lot of room for variety, with some songs detailing tragedy as well as Frank Ocean, and others sounding as sexy as anything by Miguel. And while I’m not sure if I’ll hold this record as highly as “Nostalgia, Ultra” or “Kaleidoscope Dream,” it can easily stand alongside them. Grade: A
Katy B: “Little Red” (Sony) Her singles, including “Katy on a Mission,” “Perfect Stranger,” “Broken Record,” “What Love is Made Of,” “5am” and single-of-the-decade contender “Aaliyah,” showcase dreamy electropop at is finest, making her one of the strongest artists working today. You wouldn’t know that by listening to her disappointing albums, though, which contrast with her constantly astounding singles in a way that brings ‘80s Madonna to mind.
Her sophomore album opens with “Next Thing,” a nice little song that doesn’t quite work as an opener, before getting to main attractions “5am,” “Aaliyah” and “Crying for No Reason.” The remainder of the album is pleasant but a bit monotonous, and “What Love is Made Of” is shockingly absent. In a few years, she’ll have enough material for a brilliant compilation album. Let’s hope she gets the right people behind it. Grade: B PLUS
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