Riddle Me List: 5 Things To Know About Mariah's 'Memoirs'

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

After months of grousing, steadfast disappointment over the putrid, "Obsessed", and sheer nail biting nervousness over the rumors circulating about the content of Mariah Carey's twelfth hour, it's time to open up the pages of Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel with a conscious and clear mind. From this point, we can really read between the lines and understand what Mariah is trying to convey, and its a lot. In an obvious first impression, this isn't Mariah's best work, but, its a vast improvement over the clustermuck of 2008's E=MC2, and that is comforting enough to plug ahead. Memoirs shows Mariah drinking the waters from the Fountain of Youth out of a chilled champagne glass. She's cool, relaxed and reflective, and she has no worries of being on the cusp of the big 4-0 as a majority of the songs have a youthful quality to them. This is Mariah reminiscing over her old heavily worn diary, and we've been invited to the reading. So, let's dive into the pages of Mariah's Memoirs shall we?

1. It's A Wrap
There is a little gem wedged in Memoirs, and it comes in the form of "It's A Wrap". Beginning with the sound effect of a water glass being filled this snappy doo-wop number has Mariah sounding almost vulnerable yet steadfast as this song rolls along wondrously. The best cut, in my humble opinion.

2. Mid-Tempos Abound
For those who sent all those (angry) e-mails wanting Mariah to stick to her ballad roots, your persistence prevailed, as Memoirs is filled to the brim with head nodding mid-tempos. While this is a relatively bold move that recalls what 1993's Music Box's set-up was, it does become tepid after awhile. The slinky atmospheric opening cut, "Betcha Gon' Know" has some great ideas swirling about but at times it seems to never go anywhere. More effective is the instant fan favorite, "H.A.T.E.U.", as it lightly bounces on a cloud of melodic phrasing. Still the goofily titled, "Candy Bling" is sweet and wraps you up in its warm finger-snapping groove, and its hard to resist even if its quiet as a Lamb.

3. This Is a Private Party: No Rappers Allowed
Memiors is intriguing in that there aren't any impromptu "whoops n' hollers" to be heard from guest floacists. As Mariah has almost built her career with having handfuls of some of hip-hop's brightest stars on board making appearances, the album almost feels naked without them. Still, Mariah worked solely with hip-hop's go-to producers, Tricky Stewart and The Dream on this, and I'm guessing the punchy blips and rhythmic hiccups heard on such cuts like the garish ear split of "Ribbon", were to make up for the absence. It even surprises me that even in its energized march-a-thon state, there is no rapper to be heard on "Up Out My Face". And in a way, it's quite refreshing as Mariah is allowed to get gritty on her own accord.

4. Languishing (Interlude)
Remember "Petals" from Rainbow? This is its glorious older sister. Yes, it is an interlude, but it deserved to be longer.

5. The Word Girl
Blog partner in crime, MuuMuse summed up the 7 best lyrics from this album, and I have to agree that the lyrical content of Memoirs is something to gaffaw, get second-hand embarrassment over and almost marvel at in one go. Mariah is known for her snappy lyrics and large vocabulary but here she doesn't don the librarian glasses and whip out her Thesaurus. Memoirs lyrics are a little trite with pop culture references sprinkled in, yet its endearing in a way, considering that she actually took the time to think them up. Case in point, this woman rhymed "Milano", "lotto" , "tomato", "grotto" and "gelato" all in one song (the jumping jack flash of "More Than Just Friends"). Just genius.

Final Verdict: Memoirs, as a whole, is a mixed bag of goods. It isn't cohesive yet the second half (from "It's A Wrap" on) pulls the album out of a wayward uncertainty with tracks "Angels Cry" and the cooing come-on "The Impossible" being standouts. What you can hear throughout the record, is the songbird and her duo producing team trying to reach back to the sounds, vocal structures and styles of her near flawless 90's period. But somehow Mariah kind of shies away from going all out on a bulk of these tunes. In some bizarre way, Mariah sounds almost moody and distant on this record, like a wallflower at a high school dance. She's merely observing her surroundings in this record, not being the fashionably late showstopper she usually is. It's off putting and almost weird, especially since this album plays more like Mariah's first time out, rather than her 12th time in. Imperfections, we all have them, and this album has many, yet its what makes it a unique and odd little piece of work in Mariah's album catalog.

Rating: 8.4/10
Release Date: September 29, 2009

1 comment:

  1. the most honest and detailed review and critique on mariah and this body of work. thank you.
    your observation that you so eloquently expressed in that bottom paragraph is why i have come to respect you more and more. i don't even know what else to say except, great review love.

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