Review : Usher - Looking 4 Myself
Soul CultureFast-forward to 2012 and Usher’s position atop the R&B throne was precarious at best. His 2010 projects, the aforementioned Raymond v. Raymond and extended play follow-up Versus were disregarded by fans and critics alike — perhaps unfairly, though, as the latter album in particular contained its fair share of Usher at his R&B-making finest.
Then, entirely out of the blue, the singer unveiled “Climax,” produced by celebrated electro and Hip-Hop DJ Diplo and the lead single from a then-untitled and unannounced album. In 2011, Usher had described this album — which, we’d eventually learn, was called Looking 4 Myself — as “revolutionary pop,” but nobody was expecting it contain the most groundbreaking, original and exciting single of his entire career.
EWTo the list of people who've
had mind-altering experiences at Coachella, you can add Usher. In April he was a surprise guest at
the music festival, and he says his seventh album, Looking 4 Myself, was inspired by the eclectic
acts he saw there, including
Euro-disco champs Swedish House Mafia (who produced two songs for L4M) and
Aussie synth-rockers Empire of the Sun (who guest on the title track). Even Usher's new look off stage — the Buddy Holly glasses, the facial scruff — suggests that he's warming to indie music. Did he go into Coachella as
a Top 40 guy and come out a hipster?
Well, he's not exactly taking a stand against party-rock anthems here. Looking 4 Myself still sounds like the Usher you know; it's just a little more interesting than his usual onslaught of skull-pounding beats and silk-sheets ballads. Cool-kid DJ Diplo (M.I.A., Robyn) produced the electro-glitchy single ''Climax,'' which he's compared, not unfairly, to Radiohead. ...full text
Star PulseOn his seventh studio album -- his first for the RCA label -- Usher offers up what he terms "revolutionary pop." It's not so much a style as a mixture of modern, pop-oriented R&B and European dance-pop -- not all that different in makeup from what he offered on 2010's Raymond v. Raymond. Looking 4 Myself features the steamy, low-key ballad "Climax" (co-produced by Diplo) and the storming dancefloor track "Scream" (co-written and co-produced by Max Martin). Usher's other collaborators include the Neptunes, Rico Love, Salaam Remi, and Swedish House Mafia....full text
PopDustAside from “Climax,” which you really can’t count because an outlier in every way, no track on Looking 4 Myself got more people excited than its title track. That’s entirely because of one thing, or rather, one feature: Luke Steele, of Australian indie synthpop group Empire of the Sun. It’s a rather convenient choice of feature for those who want to trumpet how much more real or hip Usher’d gotten after recruiting Diplo–expect to hear a lot of this sort of talk in the next few weeks–but it’s undeniably interesting. What would Usher sound like if, when he went synthpop, he looked less to Max Martin and more to Cut Copy?
Not much like himself, it turns out. It’s almost too easy to make a lot of lines like “Who am I? Someone remind me” when this sounds less like an Usher track with some Luke Steele involvement than an Empire of the Sun track with a buzzy Usher feature. The slightly rickety drum-machine/guitar/click beat’s not much like anything Ursh’s done and quite a bit like what Steele does; even Usher’s vocals are so restrained and sometimes processed that if you played this for someone without telling them what it is, it’d take a while and a lot of confusion for them to figure out it’s him....full text
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