Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Review: Demi by, Well, Demi Lovato
"This time there's NO holding back," Demi Lovato tweeted in April 2012 as she began writing her fourth studio album. In the year that followed, the fallen Disney angel promised fans an ultra-autobiographical record. She even named the damn thing after herself, thus preparing the world for a musical shit storm of daddy issues, substance abuse, and self-harm.
Then, this past Monday, Demi encouraged fans to tweet the album's hashtagged song titles to unlock the tracks; the more they tweeted, the sooner the songs would arrive. Within two hours, Lovatics worldwide had officially unlocked Demi in its entirety, over a week before its official May 14 release date. Premature access to the album was definitely a gift from the gods, a refreshing pop splash in a rather dry spring of music releases. The album is fun and energetic, but one thing is evident right off that bat: it's not the introspective compilation the songstress made it out to be.
Of Demi's thirteen tracks, only the final two might be considered uniquely tailored to her personal life; on the stand-out track "Shouldn't Come Back", Demi sings about severing all ties with her negligent father, while "Warrior" clearly speaks to her experiences with bullying and low self esteem. Not every pop star has a bad relationship with her dad and a self confidence so low that she winds up in rehab for four months, so kudos to Demi for digging deep. The only problem? She's done both songs before on her last album: the former is thematically identical to "For the Love of a Daughter"; the latter is an instantly forgettable sequel to "Skyscraper".
And maybe that's not a bad thing. Demi's third album Unbroken might be her funnest, albeit her least cohesive. Its mosh pit of genres and heavy reliance on guest artists like Jason Derulo, Dev, and Timbaland may indicate a lack of any solid direction, but Unbroken successfully and tastefully differentiated the new, self-empowered Demi from her pre-rehab, "Sonny With a Chance" basic self.
Unfortunately, Demi doesn't continue on the same trajectory. As quite arguably the most underrated pop vocalist of our day, whose singing ability is frequently likened to that of Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera, Demi sure limits herself to the Radio Disney scope. "Something That We're Not" sounds like a One Direction leftover and "Made in the USA" has Miley Cyrus' name written all over it, and not just because of her affinity for patriotic song titles. Even "Really Don't Care", a duet with Cher Lloyd, comes off as the kid sister to Icona Pop's "I Love It".
However, Demi still has a lot to recommend it. Its opening track "Heart Attack" is a former Jam of the Week, so you know that shit's legit. "Without the Love" and "Two Pieces" reaffirm Demi's status as a formidable pop star, and the aforementioned "Shouldn't Come Back" displays an emotional depth and vocal maturity that peers like Miley and Selena Gomez couldn't even begin to attempt.
Though Demi fails to take the singer forward in her musical journey, it proves to be a solid pop album. Those hoping for Taylor Swift-level personal details will be disappointed, but Lovatics will be more than satisfied, and Demi's impressive voice alone is enough to win over new converts.