Brandy
Full Moon


4.5
superb

Review

by robertsona STAFF
October 28th, 2023 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


Brandy’s astonishing third album, 2002’s Full Moon, has been so thoroughly reclaimed as an objet d’art ex post facto that it can be hard to remember just how hotly it was anticipated. Brandy had already made a name for herself on the charts: her 1994 self-titled debut, released at age 15, only reached #20 but somehow went on to sell six million copies globally; her follow-up Never Say Never, released four years later with Rodney Jerkins aka Darkchild at the compositional helm instead of Keith Crouch, spawned a world-beating #1 single in the Monica collaboration “The Boy is Mine” and a second #1 single called “Have You Ever?” and sold a maybe literally unbelievable 16 million copies globally. Full Moon, as a universally adored classic of forward-thinking R&B production and ambitious album-building, is often severed from the accomplishments of Brandy’s prior and subsequent work, but one should know before diving into its wonderland of burbling synths and collapsible drum patterns and those telltale Brandy vocal stacks that this lady was a global force, an icon, someone who has sold more albums to date in theory than Kylie Minogue or Kelly Clarkson or Aaliyah or SZA. Working again with Darkchild for her junior release, Brandy plumbed the depths of European nightclubs and late-night missed connections and studio trickery and came out with a dense, exciting masterpiece of contemporary R&B—one that pushed her artistic narrative forward incalculably even as it built on the strengths and idiosyncrasies of her approach to the intersection of hip-hop and soul on past efforts.

Full Moon is first and foremost a maximalist record: big moods and feelings, a cornucopia of effects and tones and clicks and clacks to listen to, and a damn lot of songs across which these sounds are distributed (much to the much-too-slow final section’s hindrance). Trafficking in first loves and loves lost, Brandy’s lyrics always seem to emphasize romance as a sort of ineffable force participated in by both parties but not reducible to their individual emotions. The wonderful title track formalizes the singer’s claim that it “must be a full moon” helping to generate the at-first-sight energy between her and her addressee by marshaling the elements with alacrity, quickly arpeggiating horns and sliding synth bassline and million-little-Brandys all swinging together like the motion of the tides on a deserted beach at dawn. This song somehow leads, via an enthusiastic “check-THIS-out” scripted phone conversation between Darkchild and Brandy, to the even more exuberant “I Thought,” whose “yes, you really did!” background-vox interjections form a front against betrayal as strong as “Full Moon”’s assertion of togetherness. Full Moon, like a great Russian epic novel, plays out a panoply of contradictory emotions at full volume and leaves us to piece together psychological processes from the collective echolocation and interpenetration of these vivid scraps.

Like many R&B albums of its era, Full Moon is too long, too easily edited down into a more pleasing version of itself, but its treasures are intense and plentiful. Whether it be the illegally smooth bounce of ballad standout “Like This,” the Sonic-pace hyperactivity of “All in Me”’s breakneck synth bubbles, or the inimitable thumpiness of #7 single “What About Us?”, Full Moon offers a densely populated panorama of fun and weird sonic details mapped with an ingeniously balanced sense of chaos atop countless earworm melodies. It is a futuristic record, sounding ahead of its years both in the sculptural vivacity of its individual sounds and in the ambition of its mood-setting as an entire project. It is an honest record, with Brandy unafraid to sacrifice a clean account of her internal thought process for vivid details of love gone so right yet so so wrong. Full Moon, then, is a rare gift, an in-depth series of diary entries from some better time where we’ve decided that the party shouldn’t stop just because our hearts are torn asunder. That Brandy put these sparkling documents on display for the whole world to peruse is a testament to her personal strength and her innovative spirit, both of them relayed to us through the dynamics of a grand romantic mystery, illuminated not with the arduous rays of the sun but the considerably more intimate fullness of the moon.



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user ratings (20)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
robertsona
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2023


27487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This has a review now

Havey
October 28th 2023


12114 Comments


i ain't even gonna front...

pizzamachine
October 28th 2023


27247 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Here it is, nice review dawg

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2023


27487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Ty!

Get Low
October 29th 2023


14275 Comments


wish every early 2000's r&b album wasn't like eight hours long

good review, Brandy's singles are nostalgic

Havey
October 29th 2023


12114 Comments


that t/t music video telescope scene kinda kino imo

Trebor.
Emeritus
October 29th 2023


59864 Comments


Crazy they named a drink after her

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
October 29th 2023


27487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I’ve never seen a brandy music video…

jrlikestodance
October 29th 2023


706 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you for the review. Amazing production throughout this

Atari
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2023


27973 Comments


I had the album before this on CD as a youngster but haven't heard this one

cheers for the review, adding to my playlist

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2023


27487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Cheers all, ty

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 1st 2023


27487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

BNger

alamo
November 5th 2023


5575 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

all in me bridge tho

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 7th 2023


27487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yeah shit goes crazy hardddd

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2023


27487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Banger

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2024


27487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Shit goes crazy

Ryus
March 25th 2024


36914 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

t/t one of the best pop songs of the decade

jrlikestodance
March 25th 2024


706 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's Not Worth It = Master class

Ryus
March 26th 2024


36914 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

whole album is amazing honestly. def underrated this on first listen

jrlikestodance
March 26th 2024


706 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Those early 2000s Darkchild beats where he leaned into dance music hold up really well imo



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