Charlie Puth – CHARLIE

Pop thrills that lack a certain degree of depth...

Charlie Puth returns with ‘CHARLIE’, an album that sees the musician stretch his muscles as a gifted producer, despite much of the project lacking originality or lyrical depth.

In a masterful use of one of the world’s biggest social media platforms, Charlie Puth has spent the past months offering fans on TikTok a unique and intimate insight into the creation of his third studio album ‘CHARLIE.’ A now essential promotional tool for musicians, Puth has asserted himself as the app’s pop prince, amassing over nineteen million followers, each one invited to witness glimpses of the creative process of much of Puth’s latest album. Puth certainly throws everything he knows into the album’s twelve tracks, packing more into a two-minute pop song than thought possible.

The album’s lead single ‘Light Switch’ is certainly a highlight of the LP. Despite clearly being made with the intention of being dissected into thirty-second chunks for the use of TikTok creators, this catchy, clean single reminds us why we fell in love with Puth in the first place way back in 2015. ‘Light Switch’, alongside track ‘No More Drama’, feel influenced by Calvin Harris’ seminal ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1’, yet unfortunately do lack the same freshness or ingenuity.

Regardless of this, Puth remains a talented producer as demonstrated by another highlight of the album, track ‘Smells Like Me’. A sweet, brilliantly constructed example of Puth at his best, this perfect soft-pop record, alongside the rest of the album, is not particularly ground-breaking but allows Puth to share his gift as a skilled producer.

Catchy, bright and competently written, ‘Left And Right’ certainly feels the most ‘Charlie Puth’ track of the album. A moment of pop excellence in collaboration with BTS’s Jung-Kook, it’s not hard to understand why the track has amassed eighty-eight million global streams. Track ‘Loser’ is another example of Puth’s excellent production skillset. Lyrically smart with a simple hook, the track falters a little with a weak bridge but proves Puth’s understanding of the formulaic pop song and his knowledge of just how to make it work so brilliantly for him.

Meanwhile, ‘There’s A First Time For Everything’ sees a very slight pop-punk influence rearing its head, although the track is somewhat poorly constructed. There’s a real sense of Puth throwing every idea at the song without a regard for curation or selectivity.

Furthermore, track ‘When You’re Sad I’m Sad’, sees the musician return to the piano where we first discovered him in 2015 with his groundbreaking first single ‘See You Again.’ Unlike ‘See You Again’, however, ‘When You’re Sad I’m Sad’ lacks the emotional profundity it so clearly desires. The album continues to fall off towards the end with ‘I Don’t Think I Like Her’ and ‘No More Drama’, both deprived of depth or originality.

However, in spite of much of ‘CHARLIE’ missing complexity or a distinctive flair, the album remains punchy and bright and what Puth lacks in poetry, he makes up for with glimpses of pure pop excellence.

6/10

Words: Grace Dodd

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