Miami pop-R&B star
may compare past loves to regrettable tattoos on his new EP, but these five songs emphasize how he relishes in starting anew. While his past efforts (2010’s self-titled album and 2011’s
) shifted slyly from bubbly pop to polished rock and electrifying dance, the surprising
September 24) veers from one hormonal extreme to another.
It’s like how Derulo’s voice slips from that robotic croon — think
T-Pain meets Akon — to falsetto elation, only more unwieldy. At one end of the spectrum, the goofy “Talk Dirty” toots along as Derulo gloats of lipstick stains and 2 Chainz calls for bedroom action via air-travel double entendres. (The thing we can do most without: the faux-Asian accent.) On the other end, Derulo sits at a piano with fellow star (and girlfriend) Jordin Sparks in “Vertigo.” They coo of sexual tension but trade verses politely, and their restraint feels cruel following the sun-dappled proposal “Marry Me.”
(A US label rep: “The full version will most likely surface top of 2014.”) Tattoos feels either bold or heavy-handed, but it still builds anticipation, as an EP should. It also reminds listeners of how Derulo’s debut single, 2009’s Take “Whatcha Say”, set high standards as it went triple-Platinum and topped the Hot 100; now, such a hooky club cut is a familiar but still-winning tactic. “The Other Side,” an explosive dance track that coaxes Derulo’s voice to flutter, as the possibility of being more than friends tickles him. In Tattoos, it’s hard to mistake new prospects for what he knows best.
Idolator Score: 3/5 —