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Album Review: Trey Songz - 'Passion, Pain & Pleasure'

Strong & Romantic

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Album Review: Trey Songz - 'Passion, Pain & Pleasure'
© Atlantic Records.
It took him four albums to do it, but on his latest release, Passion, Pain & Pleasure, Trey Songz has managed to record an album that's enjoyable from beginning to end. Unlike his first three releases, this album's musical and vocal quality are consistently good from track to track, and Trey actually sounds like a full-grown man now. Passion, Pain & Pleasure, released in the U.S. on Sept. 14, 2010, is strong, romantic album on which Trey, seemingly for the first time, sounds completely comfortable in his dual roles of R&B sex symbol and creative young artist.

Lovemaking Songs

Perhaps the most impressive things about Trey Songz' Passion, Pain & Pleasure is that it was released 13 months after his breakthrough third album, Ready. In an industry where it's common for artists to take two or three years between albums, it's to Trey's credit that he kept grinding and managed to crank out a quality album in a year. This is even more impressive since the new album is an hour long and consists of 14 full songs, plus an intro and three interludes. Anyone who's been a Trey fan the past couple of years have definitely gotten their money's worth from his albums. One drawback though, is that this album may be a little too long, but more on that later.

Among the album's highlights it's second single, "Can't Be Friends," a somber, piano-laced track where Trey sings about how he's aching over getting physically involved with a woman he knows he shouldn't have. "What we've done, we can't take it back/Now I'm sittin' here halfway crazy 'cause I know she still thinks about me, too/And there ain't no way in hell that I can be just friends with you," he sings. On Ready, Trey established his main forte as lovemaking songs, and that this strongest material on this album as well, particularly the bump-n-grind anthem "Love Faces," where he sings lyrics like "We'll be makin' love faces, shadows on the wall while the candle's burnin,' messin' up the bed while you're sweatin' out your perm, and makin' love faces." Another winner is the sexy midtempo "Red Lipstick," where he bluntly sings "I'm in the mood, if you're in the mood, let's go in the room and do what we do."

Consistently Good

© Atlantic Records.
Where the album tends to falter, however, is the upbeat party songs, particularly the first single, "Bottoms Up," featuring the rapper Nicki Minaj. If there was ever a stereotypical, ringtone-ready party song that brings nothing new to the table, this is it. Taken on it's own, it's a fun, catchy tune, but in the context of the album, it's pretty weak. Even Nicki Minaj, who's had the golden touch as far as song cameos over the couple of years can't save this track. If anything, her irrelevant, manic lyrics after the first few lines, don't add anything to the song's theme of getting tipsy in the club, a topic that's been done to death by hip-hop and a few R&B acts for the past five years.

The album's other big miscue is one of the album's three interludes, "Pain." Trey stretches his creative boundaries on this song, but the mood and tone of the track come across like a lost Janelle Monae track, or worse, a Judy Garland song. And his uncharismatic spoken-word passage at the end of the song doesn't do him any favors, either.

As mentioned above, the album clocks in at about an hour, and toward its end, the album starts to sound a little dull and repetitive, and you might get the feeling that the last few tracks were tacked on to fill the album out. But despite the few miscues, this is clearly Trey'z most consistent album yet. It remains to be seen if it becomes the hit that Ready was, since there aren't as many instantly catchy songs, but from a creative standpoint, this album is definitely the best of Trey's career so far.

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