By Alex Tamilio
R&B singer Trey Songz released his fourth studio album Passion, Pleasure & Pain on September 14, 2010. The album is a follow up to 2009’s highly successful Ready, which managed to reach the top spot on Billboard’s Top 200. While his previous album received general acclaim by fans, his follow up seems rushed and a bit redundant.
The lead single, “Bottoms Up”, featuring up-and-coming rapper Nicki Minaj, manages to imitate a club atmosphere and seems to be the overall highlight of this album. The other collaboration on the record features Grammy-award winning R&B/Hip Hop musician Drake; his verse on “Unusual” showcases his smooth flow while saving the track from Songz’s stale, emotionless verses.
“Bottoms Up” is one of the few fast paced songs on the album, and the remainder is mostly devoted to mediocre “slow jams” reminiscent of Boyz II Men. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Songz’s delivery in several tracks is unenthusiastic and lacks the vocal power of R&B’s most esteemed artists. Instead of emphasizing the emotion of the song, it sounds like Songz is struggling to belt out some high note a recurring trend in the album.
Bringing in a sense of “Pleasure” are the R&B tracks that properly affiliate Songz’s vocal range with his actual emotion. Examples of this include the melodic “Message”, the ballad “Can’t Be Friends”, and the simple yet addicting “Doorbell.” When Songz isn’t trying to reach a high note, he properly showcases the emotion of the song. Consistent quality is where Songz’s latest effort falls flat; if the entire album were comprised of songs like the above, Trey Songz would undoubtedly be a household name in R&B.
The remainder of the album is forgettable and falls in deep between the crevasses of the record’s highlights. Examples of this include “Made to Be Together”, which is completely overshadowed by it’s similarly paced counterpart “Can’t Be Friends.” While some of the less noteworthy tracks do attempt to bring an urban hip-hop feel, such as “Alone”, they aren’t as memorable as Songz’s collaborations with his more famous peers.
The album mainly suffers from a lack of originality, a quality that panders to his target audience. The seductive lyrical content and relatively slow beats will likely appeal to his large female fan base. However, it can be argued that these qualities are already present in superior albums released this year. Examples of this would be Usher’s latest album Raymond Vs. Raymond, or The Dream’s Love King.
Overall, Passion, Pleasure & Pain is a general disappointment in light of Songz’s previous efforts. Only the diehard Trey Songz fans will find every song tolerable, but many will leave the listening experience upset that Songz’s follow-up to his biggest selling record does not reflect the expected experience. For listeners who anticipate an album that is true to its first single, they should look elsewhere, as Passion, Pleasure & Pain is largely the latter.