Anew Mariah Carey album, a new promotional psychodrama: the jaunty, wisecracking lead single Obsessed exhumed an old beef with Eminem, received a lukewarm reception and was hurriedly replaced by a safe, typically bombastic Foreigner cover. It is not surprising that Carey's label is nervous: Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is a sprawling, 17-track epic with few obvious singles – but it is loaded with creativity. It's an astonishingly intimate listen.
Like many big-budget albums of the last years of the 2000s, Mariah Carey's Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel faced shifting release dates, all as the final product was tweaked in light of disappointing reactions to early singles, particularly the Eminem-baiting "Obsessed. " Unlike many of those big-budget albums, including several made by Mariah herself, Memoirs isn't the product of a stable of producers and collaborators; it is almost entirely the work of The-Dream and Tricky Stewart, the team best known for their tracks for Rihanna. Certainly, there are echoes of "Umbrella" to be heard on Memoirs, just as there are elements of the gauzy "Touch My Body," The-Dream and Tricky Stewart's previous single for Mariah, although working with mainly one set of producers does give Memoirs a cohesion that can sometimes lapse into sameness, but not in an unpleasant fashion.
Mariah Carey has already found radio rapture with Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel‘s first two singles, the brash synth kiss-off ”Obsessed” and a soaring cover of Foreigner’s schmaltz-supreme ballad ”I Want to Know What Love Is.” Still, it’s puzzling to hear one of music’s most powerful voices continually corralled into a feathery R&B midrange; imperfections are nowhere to be found on Memoirs, but neither are many true revelations. B Download This: Listen to the song I Want To Know What Love Is at last.fm See all of this week’s reviews .
MARIAH CAREY“Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel”(Island) When exactly did Mariah Carey stop singing? Even when she began flirting aggressively with hip-hop in the mid-1990s she was happy to impose her titanic vocals atop even the scrappiest production. And no matter how grimy her surroundings became ….