Perhaps as a result, “Stronger” doesn’t venture far from Clarkson’s wheelhouse: punchy pop songs overloaded with drama, and resentment.
Clarkson can make anything sound good, usually without trying very hard, and she knocks down these lightweight Top 40 anthems and mid-tempo ballads as if she were swatting flies.
“Stronger” ventures cautiously into both electro-pop (on the cringe-worthy “Einstein”: “I may not be Einstein/But I know/Dumb plus dumb equals you”) and Bruno Mars-ian soul (on the tepid first single, “Mr. Know It All”). Clarkson has two moods — scrappy and morose — and “Stronger” works every possible combination of both.
While it lacks a knockout track, it’s familiar, comforting, and utterly unchallenging, a good album by a great vocalist who, it’s easy to still hope, is capable of a lot more.