Karmin, the duo of Nick and Amy which took the world by storm in their popular cover of Busta Rhymes' and Chris Brown's Take A Look At Me, have finally debuted their new album after their 2012's Hello EP which was messy, uncoordinated and off-beat in a few cases. Can they produce magic which skyrocketed them to fame and glory? Or will they crumble from a high peak?
The duo of Nick and Amy is, to be honest, easily likable. Though Amy does sometimes scratch the infuriating levels on the surface with her off-vocals and falsettos (check Acapella), let's not forget that she her vocals are incredibly veined and she can pull off incredible vocal stunts that probably most other singers can't. That said, the duo never seemed strong on the lyrical content (Too Many Fish, Hello, I'm Just Sayin' from their Hello EP), but the catchiness of their music is what they've subdued since the EP released two years ago. That being said, after the mysterious release of the two singles in the form of Acapella and one of my favourites, I Want It All, it can be said by most Karminites that the album has finally arrived at their doorsteps. Well, maybe in a few days.
Let's talk about some of the positives here, because this album starts out strongly. Amy's vocals on Pulses is just simply astounding on extreme levels. The talent is there, and while it may seem suffocated on their previous release, Pulses definitely hits the right scenery and the vocals are put to the ultimate test. It is just glorified and outstretched, leaving the audience to be amazed at Amy's vocals. I will get to Amy's rapping later, but let's just take a gander (or hear it) at how simply fluid it's become. Another thing that has grown is Nick's vocals too. From Pulses, it's probably the only thing I liked apart from the weird synthesizers (Amy's vocals did not work in that song; it was awkward and simply irrelevant). Nick also does some of the instruments on the tracks, but his oblivious influence on the EP, while contributing to only some parts, is also shown in full glory here. It's amazing to listen to, so check out his vocals on tracks like the aforementioned Pulses, Night Like This and Hate to Love You.
Next, the production level increased up a notch, such examples include: Drifter, I Want It All, Night Like This. The guitars, the percussion; so perspicuous from the get-go became a large part of the album apart from Amy's vocals. They can be heard clearly and soundly, which is great considering their EP was just flabbergasted of production that became overly tiring as the song went on. Geronimo, which is an acapella introduction, is epic. The sounds of the duo explodes perfectly, and then notes are hit on-point. This shows that Nick and Amy are capable of stripped songs and can still balance it well. The emotional tones on the album are immensely full of depth as well, such is Neon Love and Tidal Wave, which the duo handles pretty well, though I'm fond of the former than the latter.
Lastly, the lyrics have been kicked up a notch, although at the expense of trying very hard of being too capable. It's not terrible though, after what was the lyrical nonsense of the EP (Apart from Brokenhearted), it's great to hear something refreshing and that has semblance of the album from top to bottom.
However, just like every pop album (although Karmin are fiery on their live shows), the flaws are just obvious from the start. The duo's over-singing on most parts (Tidal Wave, Gasoline, Hate to Love You) and it slowly starts to grow annoying, while at the same time keeping the song bridged from it's verses from it's chorus/hook. Thankfully, that's only a small part. Then, there's Amy's rapping such as Try Me On and others. I liked Take A Look At Me's cover and Brokenhearted's short snippet of rap, but sometimes it gets over-annoying and it feels insipid. I get that it's fun and whatnot, but I'd do without it personally and it makes the tracks much stronger in terms of quality. While 50% of the fans do like the rap and have asked for it, I'm just not a fan and probably will never be one.
Apart from the negatives, the positives simply outweigh it's counterpart. While it doesn't paper over cracks and it isn't that big a gap in the first place, the tracks are fine on their own apart from my dislikes. What's In It For Me which feels Timbaland-esque definitely doesn't make the cut...
Favourite Tracks: I Want It All, Drifter, Night Like This
Least Favourite Tracks: What's In It For Me
All in all, I would recommend the album if people are relatively okay with the pop tracks on the album. It gets you in the mood to rock, it gets you on your emotional side and packs a big punch with epic production, tamed lyrics and at times, being vocally opulent. While it's not the best thing out there, Karmin sure as hell picks up as a rock. I can't wait for future releases, as long as they're on par in quality or a better one. The album is awesome, just don't get me wrong.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.