Review: Charlie Puth makes astonishing, glistening pop
The delay in the release of Charlie Puth’s sophomore album has been maddening. He already had a hit with one of the songs, “Attention,” last summer. Another, “How Long,” came out this winter. Now the rest of it is finally out and … well, now we’d like to apologize for being impatient.
The 13-track “Voicenotes” is an astonishing, glistening collection of summer-perfect pop, crafted by a gifted songwriter with a butterfly falsetto and a knack for hooks. It’s so very 2018 that he named the CD after the iPhone recording app he uses to craft his infectious bombs.
The album opens with “The Way I Am,” and on it he addresses any critics out there: “You can either hate me/ Or love me/ But that’s just the way I am.” Puth then makes a good case for why we should love him.
The songs for the most part deal with youthful infatuation. He asks a lover to be understanding (“Patient”), suspects he’s being cheated on (“How Long” and “Somebody Told Me”), tries to convince a girl he’s mature enough (“Boy”), tells a girl to stop sweating him (“Slow It Down”), misses his long-distance squeeze (“LA Girls”) and macks on another man’s girlfriend (“Empty Cups”). Hey, he’s 26.
But so consummate a songwriter is Puth that he also invites others into his party — and mimics their style. He made the finger-snapping a cappella “If You Leave Me Now” with Boyz II Men and a groovy, uplifting James Taylor-ish tune in “Change” with the actual James Taylor, a master stroke and a highlight on an album already stuffed with them.