...A mix of the sweat-drenched sublime and the saccharine ridiculous.
Lou Thomas 2007-05-14
Unfortunately for Amerie she has no ostensible link with hip-hop midas Jay-Z. Beyonce, perhaps the world’s best known contemporary R'n'B songstress, is his fiancé. And another hopeful, Rihanna, has teamed up with the rapper/mogul on ‘U'mbrella'’, sure to be another massive single for her and him.
Amerie has just her songs and on Because I Love It, these are a mix of the sweat-drenched sublime and the saccharine ridiculous. There’s still a flavour of the percussive, filthy Washington DC Go-go sound that gives her music a satisfying and unique feel within the pop world, but at other times the sugar content will repulse all but those with the sweetest tune tooth.
Things begin brilliantly with '‘Hate 2 Love U’', with Amerie’s impressive vocal rolling along on a Kool And The Gang loop, then ‘'Some Like It'’ is even better, with tough snares and a post-Pistols Malcolm McLaren sample on it. It’s followed by ''Make Me Believe'', essentially a Curtis Mayfield tune with a new vocal and some studio trickery. A blinding slab of symphonic soul for sure, but with such ace raw materials it’d take Scooch not to make something great. But here Amerie’s lyrics get weirdly submissive. She sings: 'Anything you want I’ll do it'. This supine strangeness is immediately reinforced on next song '‘Take Control'’, the lead single on which our lass insists someone 'take control of me' repeatedly. But as it’s also got a chorus reminiscent of Michael Jackson at his peak, jumpy brass stabs and Gnarls Barkley man Cee-Lo joining in the singing, we’ll let it slide.
''Crush'' is oddly like New Order’s '‘Thieves Like Us'’ but with another twisted lyric: 'I wished I could taste your love/ lick it off of your fingertips'. Oh-kay. '‘Crazy Wonderful'’ is an 80s pastiche, but with a synths like a bass-bin avalanche.
Yet from eighth ditty, '‘That’s What U R’', this third Amerie album takes a dramatic downturn, into dreadful, simpering nonsense. The five songs that close BILI are only fit to soundtrack a dire TV dramatisation of a child’s tearjerking struggle to overcome leukaemia.
It doesn’t matter that there’s nothing here quite up to the towering standards of ''1 Thing'', Amerie’s astonishing 2005 single. But the five stinkers that end this record provide a disappointing conclusion to what would have otherwise been a sure-fire, albeit sample-heavy, pop-funk classic.