Too much of sweet pop

With mostly ballads and saccharine pop numbers that could have been sung by anyone else, American singer Charlie Puth's debut 12-track effort is largely vanilla fare.

While he is competent as a songwriter, touching primarily on topics such as infatuation, heartbreak and unrequited love, it all sounds a bit too similar after a while.

And while there is no doubt he can hold a tune, Puth's tone is not particularly unique.

My Gospel, which sounds like a re-working of Bruno Mars' Grenade, professes: "There's nothing that I won't do, just to make you love me."

But with lines like "Walk into the casino, bet it all on black. Then blow all of my winnings on a limousine, to make out with you in the back", Puth's pop music sensibilities are not nearly as refined as Mars'.

  • POP


    Charlie Puth


    2.5 stars

He fares far better on collaborative tracks, where he shares vocals with a pop or hip-hop mainstay.

This is exemplified in the breezy, tropical house-tinged track, We Don't Talk Anymore, with Selena Gomez. It is pop music gold in the form of a conversation between former lovers ("We don't love anymore. What was all of it for? Oh, we don't talk anymore, like we used to do").

The album closes with his breakout song, See You Again, from the Fast And Furious 7 (2015) soundtrack, a collaboration, but this time with rapper Wiz Khalifa. The song is a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker, who died in a high-speed car crash in 2013.

It was a runaway hit that cemented Puth's position as a singer-songwriter who managed to stay at No. 1 on radio charts around the world for weeks on end. Whether he enjoys further success remains to be seen.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2016, with the headline 'Too much of sweet pop'. Print Edition | Subscribe