Friday 21 March 2014

Lea Michele - Louder

Yes, ‘Louder’ is as Glee-tastic as you might expect.  It’s also far more enjoyable than you may have anticipated.

Lea Michele is of course best known as the prissy foghorn-voiced Rachel Berry from Glee, now forging herself a pop career to follow her successful work in musical theatre.  ‘Louder’ is a collection of eleven original power ballads that could easily be ripped straight from the TV show, just without the unique remixes and mash-ups.  If that fills you with dread then you’d better stop here, but you probably knew that already.

The album’s title is certainly fitting.  There’s a distinct lack of subtlety on ‘Louder’, from the overblown production to the astonishingly high volume of Michele’s vocals.  The songs are polished to such a sheen that they’re devoid of personality, the likes of the uplifting Cannonball and the dubstep inflected On My Way cut from the same cloth as Katy Perry, Demi Lovato or any other popstar you care to mention.  The title track, meanwhile features a guitar riff seemingly stolen from Taylor Swift’s Red, whilst You’re Mine literally steals the James Bond theme heard in Robbie Williams’ Millennium.  Battlefield is the only moment of quiet tenderness – and it’s a welcome one.

Most of the songs are fixated on break-ups, leading to a fairly one-sided album of downbeat tearjerkers, from the contrived (Burn With You – “I don’t wanna go to heaven if you’re going to hell”) to the soaringly epic (Cue The Rain).  It’s hard to fault Michele for that, though, when the songs are so blatantly informed by the death of her Glee co-star and boyfriend Corey Monteith. 

Yet despite its flaws, ‘Louder’ is a consistent album of decent songs.  The reason?  Sia Furler.  The Australian singer-songwriter has penned four songs in her typically bombastic style, including lead single Cannonball and final track If You Say So (co-written with Michele and most explicitly based on Monteith – “And the fallen hero haunts my thoughts, how could you leave me this way?”).  Other collaborators include the Stargate team of writers and producers, Benny Blanco, Christina Perri (writer of Empty Handed) and up and coming Swedish sensation Tove Lo (who wrote the electro-fuelled Thousand Needles).  For this team the album is pop by numbers, but for Michele it’s a gateway to pop stardom.

Listening to the album you can’t help but hear the pain of recent events.  Musically the album lacks originality and star quality, but you can’t fault Michele for belting out the lyrics in her powerful, impassioned voice.

Who said musical theatre performers couldn’t be popstars?


Gizzle’s Choice:
* Battlefield
* Thousand Needles
* Cue The Rain