Sunday, November 23, 2008

When Smokey Sniffles

I'm not done "giving it a chance," but I can't share the enthusiasm of everyone who loves Ne-Yo's Year Of The Gentleman (which seems to be everyone who's heard it). Maybe it's a sign of my own puerility, but the "callowness" Matos refers to humanized him on In My Own Words - a Nice Guy who also wanted to be Top Gun. Now he's beyond such earthly enthusiasms.

After the opening "Closer" establishes his sexual helplessness, he vapidly praises her infinite glories before revealing himself to be a model masochist: Are you cheating? Lie to me! Oooh, girl, nevermind. If you love him, go back to him! I don't know why you love me anyway! I'll smile, fade into the background, and nail myself to this cross, whimpering in falsetto for my sins. He even ruins the oft-quoted "calamari > pity parties" line by deciding to wet nurse the girl pining for her ex anyway. Quality songwriting aside (though some of the midi-synth flourishes are worthy of a video game about elves), his concept of a "gentleman" seems pretty damn sniveling.

8 comments:

Alfred Soto said...

I don't wanchu to go to bed mad at him.

The album should have been titled Year of the Masochist, agreed, but this is the first Ne-Yo album on which he's written six or seven good songs instead of singles-plus (I don't count the "Heal The World" clone that Matos likes).

Anthony said...

Ironically, thanks to its oppressive tone, this is the album I'd be least likely to want to hear six or seven songs from in a row. The non-singles on his debut are dorky, but I enjoy listening to all of them (I'll take eager to please over eager to suffer) - and I like at least six or seven songs on Because Of You.

Anthony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

also, "When You're Mad" >>>>> "Mad"

Al said...

I don't think YOTG is all that, either... at the very most, it's my 4th favorite grown-up suit-wearing R&B album this year (after Robin Thicke, Raphael Saadiq and John Legend). I don't think you even need to pin that on the concept or emotional tenor of the songs, though, it just get kinds of dull once the (great) singles are out of the way.

Anthony said...

I haven't heard the Thicke album in its entirety (and Legend I've never dug into yet), but Saadiq is a crit fave I REALLY can't get into. It's just soooooo formalist that I don't hear any life in it. Maybe there's a lyrical hook or something that will make it connect as more than a simulacrum (one that makes me want to hear originals rather than admire his effort - and I say this as a TTT fan), but the stuff on his myspace page just feels like something from that show American Dreams.

Alfred Soto said...

I've always liked Saadiq's voice, and "Big Easy" and "Falling in Love" are awesome, but I'm with Anthony: from the cover art to the drum sound, it's too much of a curio; it reminds me of a rose pressed into a family Bible.

Al said...

The retro aesthetic on Saadiq's album can be stifling, I'm not gonna argue against that. I'm just saying I like it better than the Ne-Yo album, which pretty frequently sounds drab and wishy washy when it tries to avoid sounding like modern R&B.