Mariah Carey: Flaws And All

noah | September 29, 2009 10:00 am

Our continuing look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel, the 12th studio album by Mariah Carey: • “A cover of Foreigner’s ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ is an appropriate closer. After an album in which the distance between pillow talk and recrimination, seduction and betrayal is painfully thin, it’s a potentially potent gospel plea. Unfortunately, it resorts to the soft-to-loud-to-louder formula that has ruined many a power ballad in this American Idol era. Perhaps this was Carey’s opportunity to prove that she can still climb those Everest-like octaves. Fortunately, the restraint she brings to much of the rest proves she’s maturing into more than just a vocal acrobat.” [Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune] • “At 17 songs (plus a six-song remix EP), the record is far too long, and by the time the exuberant ‘Up Out My Face’ arrives, it feels like it was grafted on from a better record. Mostly, Memoirs dawdles and sighs, climaxing with a straightforward cover of Foreigner’s ‘I Want to Know What Love Is.’ Confessional albums generally address mysteries in a performer’s life. The real mystery on “Memoirs” is how something so long can feel so slight.” [J. Edward Keyes, Newsday] • “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel will stand out in Carey’s catalog as an experiment that illuminates her place in the pantheon without either boosting it or damaging it. I wouldn’t be surprised if, a decade from now, Carey cites this effort as a personal favorite. It’s that kind of wholly decent effort: a self-exploration that settles on its unpretentious insights by not pushing too hard.” [Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times] • “The Beatles’ generation-defining songbook often feels eons away from Carey’s effete R&B — but it shouldn’t. Through thick, through thin and through “Glitter,” we’ve been able to rely on Carey for her vivacity — that magical musical chromosome she shares with the Fab Four. Despite her inconsistencies, she’s shown a marathoner’s endurance, delivering bubble-gum revelations that never seem to lose their flavor. ‘Obsessed’ and ‘Up Out My Face’ probably won’t eclipse the Beatles’ benchmark, but they still argue for Carey’s imminent spot in the record books. As snarky and silly as it is, consider Memoirs a text message from a pop star who refuses to grow up: all u need is ” [Chris Richards, Washington Post]