Despite his hit-making collaborations, Charlie Puth has been a rather mediocre presence on the pop spectrum. Where his debut album is concerned, he failed to make much of an impression.
But the 26-year-old’s sophomore release boasts bigger ambitions. For starters, Puth takes on the primary producing credit for all but one song on the 13-track collection.
Or as the former YouTube star writes on the album’s sleeves, the album was made entirely on his “little Pro Tool rigs with a Midi keyboard and a microphone”.
However, don’t expect Voicenotes to sound too organic. The songs here are actually very well polished despite its “homemade” production. Just listen to lead single Attention, with its faint disco elements and addictive guitar riffs. The moments when Puth layers his own vocals is pure production magic.
Elsewhere, the New Jersey native draws inspiration from 80s and 90s R&B to expand his pop circle. The seductive Done For Me enlists the help of sultry songstress Kehlani while If You Leave Me (not to be confused with Chicago’s 1976 hit) features the smooth falsettos of Boyz II Men.
The first half of the record is filled with sure-fire summer bops (opener The Way I Am, LA Girls and How Long), but it begins to lose steam with the inclusion of one forgettable ballad after another.
Lyrically, Voicenotes is kind of all over the place. At one point, Puth laments about unfaithful relationships and the next, he’s with a crowd of mean girls he wouldn’t mind taking to bed.
That lyrical gripe is negligible though, because for most part, Voicenotes is packed with its fair share of great pop moments.