First Impressions: In The Thicke Of It, 'Sex Therapy' Not The Perscription

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let me just point out the elephant in the room. Robin Thicke has sold out. Now before the tomatoes, chairs, hot combs and grits start to fly in my direction, Mr. Thicke has reason to pitch up his foreclosure sign in his musical front yard, thus the reasons why Sex Therapy: The Experience  is the way it is make me feel a bit of sympathy for Thicke.

After 2008's Something Else failed to attract an audience who were searching for the second "Lost Without You" come-on or even reprising what 2005's The Evolution of Robin Thicke or even his 2003 debut, A Beautiful World, possessed, Thicke possibly felt that going down a "radio accessible" route was the answer to him to not be pegged as a one-trick pony chart-wise. But album wise, his artistry is lost.

There was a growing monstrous fear of Mr. Thicke taking the expressway to Sell Out Junction, especially after hearing the atrocious, "Shakin' It For Daddy" last month and the Sex Therapy album as a whole hasn't comforted the fact that he has indeed opted for radio hits than actual substance. It's a career move that he shouldn't have to take, but these are desperate times, and since he's one of the few genuinely talented  R&B/Soul cats out there, and since the radio likes something a little gimmicky, Robin switches mindsets. The rap cameos are kicked up a notch, the content is less romantic, even more sleazy, the ballads are lazily done and at times, you can barely hear Thicke because he's sweet falsetto is drowned out by electronic grooves and hip-hop thunder claps. In seriousness, on Sex Therapy, Thicke abandons what got him the attention in the first place for a much more sellable sound, and that's really the big disappointment here.

We begin with a woman cooing seductively acting as an operator of sorts for us to "please hold for the doctor" and right off the bat we're introduced to what is to come. Cheap thrills and gimmicks."Mrs. Sexy" kicks things off calmly, but not explosive as it folds right into "Sex Therapy" which still oozes of hot n' sticky nights under the sheets, and while its not the affectionate touch like "Lost Without You", its still worthy of a hand fan and satisfied sighs.

Then things take a turn once the duo drivel of Jay-Z guest spot, "Meiple" and the lazy "Make U Love Me" come into to play. The latter interpolates Marvin Gaye's "I Want You", but that interjection is clearly old hat by now. Both cuts are uninspired and just kind of sit there in limbo waiting for something to happen. 

Something as a relief comes in the form of when we get to hear the Jazmine Sullivan assisted, "Million Dolla Baby", which is a stunning dusty jazz swing thing that is clearly the diamond in the rough. Quite impressive, even though its the last we'll hear of something as ambitious as this.

The album goes into a lull towards the end where Robin transforms from club seducer to lounge lizard, as the last half goes into sultry samba territory for a good four songs. As tedious as that is, the better of the three is the gliding, "Mona Lisa" which has Robin sounding much more like the affectionate R&B man he is, yet meshed inbetween the others, it kind of blends in and doesn't really rise to its full potential.

 Sex Therapy, in a nutshell, is truly uninspired and uneven. Up-tempos such as the Kid Cudi guest spot, "Elevatas" and Snoop Dogg's appearance on "In The Mornin''" have great ideas swirling around, but just kind of go nowhere, akin to if someone built stairs and forgot that the destination leads to a wall. Then songs like "Rollacostas", which features an exuberant Estelle, go on for longer than they should. The rap cameos become too much of an overload during the first round of the album to the point where you wonder if this just a feature project for Robin and not his own album.

What is also noticeable is that a lot of the songs that feature rappers or guest stars, would be perfectly fine if they weren't present. If you strip the song to its bone, and just featured Robin, the song is bearable. Evidence of that is on the 70's love groove of "Diamonds", which shout-outs shining star ladies such as Michelle Obama, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah and Robin's wife, actress Paula Patton, but unnecessarily features rapper, The Game.

If there is any display of a misstep for Robin, this album is clearly it, as the motive for this record is not for sultry grooves or imaginative forays into soul or Blues or even the slight classic rock thump turns he took on his previous record, it's mainly geared for him to get a radio hit. Shame indeed considering that the man doesn't need to strip himself of what he gained fans with in the first place. Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn, Robin checks out of the Ritz-Carlton and checks into Motel 8, and doesn't offer anything musically therapeutic.

Rating: 5.0/10
Release Date: December 15, 2009

1 comment:

  1. I'm disappointed w/ Mr. Thicke.

    This review justified my worries. *sigh*


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