Review Summary: I never meant to fall in love
Possibly one of the most versatile pop artists of his generation, Jason Derulo seems to be just as adept at crafting perfect pop packages in the form of albums as he is at making huge, chart-topping singles to promote them. Everything Is 4
, as Derulo's fourth album, is the most hugely anticipated of the man's career. Tattoos
, and it's repackaging under Talk Dirty
, featured so many big hits that after the slight commercial flop of Derulo's latest single output, it may have seemed like his time in the spotlight was up. Having jumped from infectious pop rock on his self-titled debut to more dancey territory on his sophomore effort Future History
, Derulo now finds himself embedded in roughly the same territory as Chris Brown, only with a touch more self awareness.
I would like to make my first point that Derulo can REALLY sing. Unlike songs such as the autotune saturated 'The Other Side' and 'Wiggle', this record sees Derulo employ a much larger spectrum of vocal ability. Soaring harmonies on 'Painkiller' alongside Meghan Trainor make the track one of Derulo's most dynamic to date. And, though he has been in the past, he's certainly no slouch here lyrically. 'Want To Want Me' is essentially the spiritual successor to 'The Other Side', only lyrically reflecting the lust-filled bedroom antics rather than a declaration of his affections in the aftermath. Just as sprightly and lightweight sounding as the Tattoos
opener, this track epitomises the sound Derulo has been honing for half a decade. Then there's Get Ugly, which follows on from 'Wiggle' in roughly similar fashion. Its winding bassline, snappy melodies and stuttering ad-libs make it as much a consolidation of his R&B sound as 'Want' of his pop rock approach.
Impressively, Derulo manages to make songs like these slot together almost seamlessly. As aforementioned, the lyrical swing towards earthy, physical encounters on Talk Dirty
has been hugely beneficial to Derulo's career, and here there's an even split between these type of songs and the more romantic serenades commonly associated with Derulo's earlier material. The tracks that take the former path here come out best, with 'Try Me' featuring fluttery keyboards and a soft tribal rhythm that form a perfect backdrop for his soft, sultry croon (ironically his trademark and often hilarious name-announcement at the start of every track now no longer appears) and 'Love Me Down' utilises funky guitars and jagged synths to create a complex soundscape for Derulo to lay down his incredible falsetto. However, the gorgeous 'Love Like That', which is easily as impressive as any ballad in his past discography, slides in between two of the more raunchy numbers so well that the entire album ends up sounding like a perfectly woven tapestry that ties all its elements together into one huge unifying concept.
It's not all perfect, though. 'Pull-Up' is fairly weak sheerly because it's a corny imitation of past work i.e 'Wiggle', and 'Trade Hearts' is not only lacking vocally but also instrumentally, as it in essence sounds like a talent show winner's single, sappy and lacking any real emotion. But despite these shortcomings, this remains a neat, tightly produced arrangement of tracks that more often than not delivers on an emotional level that may ultimately prove surprising for an artist that so many accuse of being shallow on almost every level.