Ne-Yo opens his fifth studio album, “R.E.D.,” by revealing a few shortcomings. On the ’60s-soul-influenced “Cracks in Mr. Perfect,” the singer admits that he spends an obscene amount of money popping bottles in the club, has trouble maintaining relationships because he is surrounded by women, and basically becomes “more of an idiot with every extra million I get.” After that unflinching look at his personal flaws, Ne-Yo spends the rest of the album unwittingly revealing his professional weaknesses — which also have to do with excess.
Clearly, Ne-Yo is an extremely gifted and versatile songwriter. (Beyonce and Rihanna are just two of the stars he has penned hits for.) He is so great at crafting music and spotting talent that he was named vice president of A&R at Motown Records this year. So, unsurprisingly, “R.E.D” contains some great music, but at times it seems like a clumsy attempt to cram all of Ne-Yo’s gifts into one package.
The album contains several Ibiza nightclub moments, with electro dance-pop tracks such as “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” and “Shut Me Down.” There is sultry, languid adult contemporary R&B, such as “Lazy Love,” and even a foray into country-pop with the guitar-laden “She Is,” featuring Tim McGraw. “Alone With You (Maddie’s Song),” an ode to Ne-Yo’s baby daughter, takes its melodic cues from the Beatles, and “Should Be You,” featuring Diddy and Fabolous, is a straightforward, radio-ready hip-hop/R&B collaboration.
They are all great pieces, but they add up to a somewhat disjointed whole. Ne-Yo can do it all, but it’s not necessarily a good thing to hear it all at once.
“Cracks in Mr. Perfect,” “Lazy Love,” “Along With You (Maddie’s Song)”
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