The son of Growing Pains‘ Alan Thicke has built a career singing the sort of classy, nonthreatening slow jams that befit a squeaky-clean sitcom dad’s heir. Robin Thicke takes a few more risks on his fourth album, Sex Therapy, slinging falsetto boasts and come-ons over futuristic electro-funk backdrops with frequent assists from rappers like Jay-Z and The Game. Plenty of other contemporary artists have been treading similar ground for years, but until Justin Timberlake gets around to making another album, this just might be the next best thing.
Sex Therapy is an evasive maneuver to prevent Robin Thicke from being pigeonholed as a “grown folks” R&B singer. It’s evident that hits -- more specifically, appealing to younger listeners -- is the goal. While Thicke’s previous album, Something Else, did well on the album charts, it maintained a classicist sound throughout, produced only one major single, and featured only one appearance from a guest MC.
Sexy songs and songs about sex – two distinctly different types of songs, no matter what a young new jack will tell you – are so common nowadays that it’s hard to imagine a time when artists had to be really clever with their lyrics to get a such a message across. Of course, with ubiquity comes a substantial uptick in artists who just want to exploit the taboo nature of recording and releasing songs about the sticky icky. And in the decades since men like Marvin Gaye explored the false dichotomy between the profane and the divine with still-devastating emotional honesty and complexity, many a young soul man has tried to do the same, often to less satisfying results.