Review Summary: So much more than what you see on the surface.
Whomever created the Sputnik page for Demetria Devonne Lovato listed her as "A Disney Pop Singer whose musical style is similar to Miley Cyrus." While it is certainly easy to think something like this, it is, quite honestly, a blatant falsehood. While both Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus got their push to fame by being in a Disney production which also required them to regularly sing pop-rock tunes, that's about where the similarities end. You see, Miley's music initially hinged almost entirely around her character--the lyrics were from Hannah Montana's perspective, singing about what it's like to be famous, and how cool it is to be both a popstar AND a regular kid. She did not sing about herself. And once she did begin playing songs as Miley Cyrus instead of Hannah Montana, it divulged into either awkward country-tinged pop or awkward synth-based pop. Demi Lovato, as insignificant as it may be (seeing as these lyrics are not exactly of the highest caliber) is singing about herself, what she does, and the world she lives in--not the world her character lives in. Her music, while distinctly pop-rock, leans much more heavily to the 'rock' side of the spectrum most of the time, sounding more like Paramore than Miley.
Now this isn't to say that any of the depth or mild complexity of a Paramore record is here--it certainly is not--however, Demi is clearly trying to step away from her peers by moving to the rockier side of pop music. And while she doesn't exactly let her influences show (as most of this music is co-written with people such as the Jonas Brothers), it is important to keep in mind that this girl is NOT your typical Disney pop star. She lists some of her favorite bands as being Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and Job For A Cowboy. Before she was offered a Disney contract, she played guitar in what she described as a 'Darkthrone-influenced black metal band.' How many pop stars do you know of who have kvlt cred under their belt?
But honestly, on this album, she earns respect as more than just a pop star with a unique background. As awesome as her black metal band sounds, she absolutely shines as a pop singer. Her voice is, quite frankly, massive. Watching her music videos shows an enthusiasm and lack of self-consciousness and pretension rarely seen in her peers, and a closer look at some of her songs shows a hugely impressive range and a ridiculously powerful voice. While she generally sits comfortably in your average alto range, every once in a while, she lets loose, and her voice absolutely soars, without hesitation or any lack of power. And it's not just talent alone that carries her, as while these aren't exactly the deepest self-reflections ever composed, and while every track is at least co-written with someone else, it doesn't change the fact that many of the tracks on this album are really, really strong. If one can overlook the lyrics, the fun beat, pop-metal second verse, and crazy vocal tricks bring lead single 'La La Land' into infectious and impressive territory. On the other end of the spectrum, the title track, while self-admittedly cheesy, still manages to be genuinely touching, and when the guitar and drums kick in at the end of the track, it's hard to not be a little moved and astonished that a Disney star, of all people, managed to put out a track like this. Similarly, album highlight 'The Middle' manages to get past its somewhat awkward introduction to reach a chorus which is both ridiculously catchy, as well as featuring some of Demi's best vocals out there, and even packing in some pretty genuine emotion.
And even the more mediocre songs on this album all have their high points. Despite the corny verses of 'Until Your Mine,' the chorus manages to hit hard, and contrasts with the verses in a fairly impressive way (similar to the excellent track 'Quiet,' on her second album). As moronic as 'Party' is, it still has surprising vocal feats, and 'Get Back' is pure, unadulterated fun.
So, all in all, despite many flaws, this album is too fun, and the singer too impressive and innately likable, to pass up. Hell, it's the beginning of summer--why not kick back for a half hour while biking to the beach to enjoy some fun-ass summer tunes along the way?