Album review of 'Love King' by The-Dream

DREAMY: The-Dream's third album blends power-ballad with post-crunk brio.
DREAMY: The-Dream's third album blends power-ballad with post-crunk brio. (Pamela Littky)
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By Chris Richards
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The high-fructose R&B of Terius "The-Dream" Nash has become so synonymous with summer, it now rivals the Slurpee. It's cool. It's syrupy. It's impossible to dislike. But too much can give you a headache.

Only recently have we dislodged the indelible "ella-ella-ella" refrain of Rihanna's 2007 summer smash "Umbrella" from our collective brain tissue, a megahit that made the songwriter one of the most coveted in pop music. As for his Beyoncé hit "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," you'll hear it at every wedding you attend for the rest of your life.

But this summer, The-Dream is taking a little me-time with his third solo album, "Love King." It's a collection of fizzy love songs that sound a whole lot like the fizzy love songs that populate The-Dream's first two albums. Which is to say: They're awesome. Four more years of consistency this monolithic and he'll be the AC/DC of R&B.

His voice is R. Kelly on a hit of helium or Prince stricken with echolalia, the compulsion to repeat words. When you hear a pinched male falsetto pulsing from your radio, radio, radio, you're hearing The-Dream, The-Dream, The-Dream.

But from The-Dream's lungs, those echoed syllables become incredibly powerful hooks-- melodic micro-mantras that colonize the mind with an unparalleled tenacity.

They work their strange magic during the chorus of "Make Up Bag," a song whose narrator returns home reeking of another woman's perfume. He saves himself from a night on the couch by following a dubious piece of advice that combines double-entendre, slang and oodles of repetition: "If you ever make your girlfriend mad, don't let your good girl go bad/Drop five stacks on the make up bag."

The double-entendre? The make up bag, a designer handbag purchased to make amends. The slang? Five stacks, meaning $5,000. The oodles of repetition?

"The make up bag."

"The make up bag."

"The make up bag."

"The make up bag."

"The make up bag."

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