Reviews: Fergie's Double Dutchess; Miley's Younger Now

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Double Dutchess by Fergie

After keeping the world waiting for over 11 years, Stacey Ferguson, known to the world as Fergie, at last released her second solo album, a visual album called Double Dutchess.

Admit it to yourself or not, The Dutchess slapped; even Vince Staples agrees, and he’s right about everything. The Dutchess, which combined elements of pop, hip-hop, rock, and even a pinch of Motown, turned Fergie into a bonafide solo act. But the genius of her first album fails to emerge on Double Dutchess.

The whole collection of videos is on YouTube if you so desire to watch them. As a heads up, no unifying theme or storyline ties these videos together other than the ageless beauty that is Fergie. In all honestly, that’s all that really needs to be said about the visual element.

At their very best, the songs sound just fine, but the six degrees that separate them from being great songs only serve to frustrate anyone expecting the next “Glamorous” or “London Bridge”. “Like It Ain’t Nuttin” boasts the verses and the beat of a hit, but the chorus is lazy and repetitive. While “Tension” exudes some admirable Britney vibes, it fails to deliver anything that makes it uniquely fergalicious. A track that does sound Fergie, “Life Goes On”, could double as “Big Girls Don’t Cry” in the age of EDM-infused pop, only no one really asked for that. And tropical bop “Love is Blind”, though one of the better songs on the record, features a very jarring enunciation of the word “bitches” that I cannot for the life of me understand how to spell out or why it appears the record at all.

Although the overall album lacks cohesion, Double Dutchess’ sonic diversity does remind you of Fergie’s versatility as a performer, one who spits, warbles, and belts all across the project. The only thing is, she brings little innovation or excitement to the many genres she channels. Fergie often shines most when she gets excessive and exaggerated, and a producer like SOPHIE would bring out this vibrant and witty performer.

These songs may turn out to be growers. “MILF $” and “L.A. Love” do sound a little less awkward a year later, and “Enchante” is saved by a pretty decent dance beat. Believe me, no one more than me wants Fergie to knock this shit out of the park. I spent the better portion of the past month talking about her plans to release a visual album, to which a friend, in an attempt to process this information, said aloud “The Fergie visual album.” In that moment, I realized how badly this would probably go. C MINUS

Miley Cyrus Younger Now cover

Younger Now by Miley Cyrus

In the grand scheme of things, one expects artists as young as Miley Cyrus to undergo stages of artistic growth. However, no one expected the girl who once compared her new sound to the second coming of MJ’s Bad to drastically pivot into something so subdued no one knows really what to make of it. Even in 2017, where everyone has an opinion on everything, Younger Now is too pleasant to upset anyone. It is because of this, and Cyrus’s past dabbling in hip-hop culture to the point many took genuine offense, that the pleasantries of Younger Now only make Cyrus out as an artist who bases her career choices on all the wrong reasons.

With Younger Now, Cyrus draws upon her country background and infuses it with a bit of the psychedelia she flaunted so proudly with Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. But if Younger Now tells a listener anything, it’s that Cyrus learned nothing from her past experiences. She address her “change” in tone from the get-go on the titular track: “No one stays the same,” she delivers with less enthusiasm than one may expect from the unapologetic controversy-courting pop star of years gone by.

The tracks sound pleasant and agreeable, a quality that would fit someone with a different musical background than the one Cyrus so eagerly clung to only four years ago. At this point, her pop-rock-meets-country shtick proves insufficient to draw you in because that’s not what you turned to Miley Cyrus for in the first place. The impressiveness of scoring living legend Dolly Parton on “Rainbowland” falls right through the floor when Cyrus pines for a place “Where we're free to be exactly who we are”. Weren’t you exactly who you wanted to be back in 2013?

While yes, artists reinvent themselves all the time, they rarely do so with the same stubborn furor Cyrus adopted during the Bangerz and ...Dead Petz promotional periods. If anything, the current Cyrus appears afraid to rock the boat in any given direction, an action that resonates less as artistic growth and more so as selling out.

The one redeeming quality behind this whole project is Cyrus’ twangy voice, which saves this project from being entirely pointless. In her lower registers, Cyrus draws you into her husk and warmth. It is in these moments she reveals the traces of an artist who otherwise remains absent from this album. D PLUS