Jesse McCartney continues where he left off with 2008 effort Departure
Jesse McCartney • In Technicolor (Part I) • EightOEight • US Release Date: December 10, 2013
After five years, actor/sometimes pop star Jesse McCartney finally makes his return to music (notice ‘finally’ is underlined). The looming question is what took so freaking long? Those who followed McCartney’s career know that he was set to release his fourth studio album, Have It All back in 2011. Well, Have It All never came through – only single “Shake” hails from the unreleased effort. Bummer things turned out that way as McCartney was on a roll (contextually) once he finally embraced his more ‘urban’ pop roots on 2008 album Departure. Maybe Departure wasn’t a classic, but it did yield two notable singles – no. 10 pop hit “Leavin’” and the Ludacris assisted remix of “How Do You Sleep?”, a top 40 pop single itself. Thankfully on his new EP of new material, In Technicolor (Part I), McCartney keeps the ‘Justin Timberlake’ swag going.
So how much analysis and criticism can be made of a four-song, 12-minute EP? Well if you know Brent Faulkner, he can nitpick at anything – really! The good news for my homeboy is, well In Technicolor (Part I) tickles my fancy. Why? Well, McCartney has ‘old-school’ in mind here. Rather than thinking contemporary-electro pop/R&B, McCartney hearkens back to feel-good music from the seventies. He doesn’t do so anachronistically – he still has that twenty-something swagger. But unlike many artists his age, he seems to understand that the ‘bread is buttered’ with classic sounds and influences.
“In Technicolor (Part I)” doesn’t even clock in at two minutes, but manages to pack a punch regardless. McCartney’s vocals are clear as a bell; they’re most distinct when he infuses upmost emotion and a dash of falsetto. On the catchy chorus (“Technicolor / waiting for that…searching for that…”), McCartney is assisted by soundly arranged backing vocals, further sweetening the track as a whole. Ultimately, “In Technicolor” suits McCartney’s sensibilities – straddling the pop and soul world much like JT.
As good as an under-two minute opener may be, “Back Together” stands out even more. From the title, you’d correctly assume this is all about rekindling a broken romance. Slickly produced with a taste of funk and those retro-soul/pop cues in play, “Back Together” feels good, a similar sentiment that McCartney tries to convey within the writing. Speaking of the songwriting, it’s strong and further strengthened by sensible structure and form. A favorite lyric hails from the first verse: “Lipstick on my cigarette, how you used to hog the bed / the little sh*t that I can’t forget…” It doesn’t end there as the pre-chorus serves as masterful, poetic segue to the chorus (“I reminisce with the stars tonight/ and think of how we knew them all by name / but they don’t shine half as bright / ever since you walked away…”). Cheers to “the little sh*t” which McCartney refers to as it works out well for him.
I’m a single guy and I’ll readily admit I’m not ready to concede my ‘singlehood’ for commitment, but I definitely appreciate McCartney’s openness for marriage on the chivalrous “Tie the Knot.” Burst of horns add a little extra spice on top of this romantic gem, something that is certainly the antithesis of much of urban music, which relies too heavily on sex and the shock value of being overt rather than subtle. McCartney realizes something else that many artists don’t – subtlety can carry as much if not more weight than brashness. Take R. Kelly’s Black Panties for example – the veteran totally strips romance in favor of emotionless sex. “Tie The Knot” is drenched in emotion, without being a ‘bump-n-grind’ ballad.
Closer “Checkmate” is the most contemporary track on In Technicolor, firmly planted in contemporary, modern R&B. Like the previous three tracks, McCartney is in exceptional voice. What is different is that McCartney clings to his lower register more, further crafting another winning performance. If he’s more restrained on the verses, McCartney makes up for it on the bridge, which is more excitable and contrasts the rest of the song. The chorus rocks lyrically as McCartney tells her “…girl you will always lose when you choose to make the moves that you make…” CHECKMATE!
Honestly, there is little to denounce about In Technicolor (Part I). 12 minutes may not provide a full picture of what McCartney has up his sleeves, but it certainly at least gives the listener a worthwhile hint. The biggest quibble ultimately is that there is only 12-minutes of music and McCartney has been gone for five years! But, if it is indeed “the little sh*t”, well this little album is pretty enjoyable.
Favorites: “Back Together” and “Tie The Knot”
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