Release Date: Jul 1, 2014
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): R&B, Pop/Rock, Adult Contemporary R&B, Contemporary R&B
If Robin Thicke’s new album was an Instagram shot — and, in some surreal sense, it is — it would show the singer down on both knees, with his hands clenched in prayer and his brows knitted in earnest plea. As everyone on the planet knows, “Paula” offers an album-length appeal for Thicke’s estranged wife to forgive him for his wandering eye and wavering attention. In the opening song alone, “You’re My Fantasy,” he addresses his spouse with the word “please” no fewer than 24 times.
“I wrote a whole album about you,” professional lothario Robin Thicke texts his estranged wife, Paula Patton, in the music video for the pointedly titled “Get Her Back,” the lead single from said album, Paula. “I don't care,” she replies. And it's likely no one else will either. Here's the thing about women: Despite what Wendy Williams thinks, if you publicly humiliate us, making a spectacle to get us back isn't going to fly.
A sleeve that would have been a more emblematic model for Robin Thicke's seventh album is that of Robert Goulet's My Love Forgive Me. If Paula bears any other relation to Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys -- the graphic likeness is unmistakable -- it must be far beneath the surface. Like the 1964 Goulet album, Paula deals in remorse and heartache -- ballads that acknowledge fault and plead for mercy.
Up until last year’s big, controversial hit, “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke was well-known in some quarters for his falsetto prowess and sexy persona. But for most, he existed in a sort of cologne-clouded, sub-Timberlake netherworld of almost famous-ness in the shadows of the club. If listeners were unaware of the tabloid drama surrounding Thicke’s broken marriage to actress Paula Patton, his new album — named for his estranged wife and out Tuesday — might impress as having some of his strongest songs yet.
The most revealing image of Robin Thicke at Sunday’s BET Awards wasn’t the pained expression he wore while singing “Forever Love,” a forlorn piano ballad the R&B star introduced as an apology to his estranged wife, Paula Patton. It was instead a reaction shot that showed Thicke sheepishly laughing at a joke by the show's host, Chris Rock, about Donald Sterling’s never having met a black man until he received one for Christmas. The most visible white person in the room, Thicke at that moment was being called upon to demonstrate some chagrin about sharing a skin color with the L.A.
Why would Robin Thicke release another full-length so soon after Blurred Lines? The album, which includes tracks called Get Her Back, Too Little Too Late and, yes, Love Can Grow Back, is an attempt to win back his wife, Paula Patton, after his multiple alleged infidelities. Solidifying the theory that Thicke rushed the record together in a weird play for both public sympathy and capital gain, each song reeks of some other influence, the only real originality coming via the confessional and often TMI lyrics. The album wobbles between Timberlake-style sexy-time R&B, Bublé-light standards and flat attempts at sincere John Legend-type balladry.