Review by Nick Erickson, Staff writer
Though his name might not ring a bell to everyone, rising pop- tar Charlie Puth has been heard by hundreds of millions. Gaining attention from his contribution to Wiz Khalifa’s hit single, “See You Again,” Puth’s silky smooth vocals and piano deserved a spotlight of their own.
That day has come, as Puth’s debut LP “Nine Track Mind” was released Jan. 29. Now that Puth is in control of the reins, does his talent measure up to the hype built in anticipation for the release? It most certainly does, as listeners will come to see the 24-year-old’s delivery packs more punch than your average pop record.
If one thing is for certain, it’s that Puth knows how to compose a catchy song. Having studied at the world-renown Berklee College of Music, he’s well-versed in music theory, and it shows on “Nine Track Mind.” More than 12 tracks, Puth captures the “feel-good” atmosphere of swing, the emotion of R&B and the sugar-sweetness of pop. A man of many talents, Puth’s vocals are glossy and not over-produced. Most of the tracks are driven by simple, yet tastefully-written piano lines. Other instrumentation comes into play at times, such as clean guitar melodies and electronic drum percussion. These all help to add extra diversity to the sound he is going for.
Starting the album off with some delicate piano playing and low, soothing vocals from Puth is “One Call Away.” On this track, Puth sings of doing all the things that you do for the person you love and how wonderful it is when you feel comfortable with that person. It’s more heartfelt than most pop songs, and bound to be relatable to most listeners.
Already at more than 200 million views on YouTube, Puth unveiled his lead single from the album back in April of last year, “Marvin Gaye,” which is still arguably one of the strongest on the record. This song is a throwback to the music of the ‘50s, and stands out from mainstream songs. Featuring the ever-so-popular Meghan Trainor, the duet fits seamlessly as the two sing sensuously through cleverly-constructed verses. Trainor’s smooth singing and Puth’s upbeat piano chords will have listeners tapping their feet for years to come. This is pop at its most creative.
Other tracks do just as well showcasing Puth. Track five, “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” is built around an addictive guitar riff and features pop star Selena Gomez, who adds depth and beautiful harmonies to Puth’s powerful performance. Puth brings forth some newfound angry emotions on track 10, “Suffer,” as he belts out his feelings about the end of a relationship. The album closer, “Some Type of Love,” carries itself at a slow pace. Ending the album on a laid-back note, Puth sings softly over gospel-esque harmonies. “When the world’s on fire, we won’t even move,” Puth sings.
Pop music gets a reputation for being stale and lacking substance. Charlie Puth shows the world that this isn’t always the case.