R.E.D.

On "Cracks in Mr. Perfect," the confessional opener on his fifth LP, Ne-Yo is the sort of beautiful smoothie who fucks you without a condom, then shrugs sheepishly and says, "It's our imperfections that truly make us perfect." Bullshit notwithstanding, his silky phrasing gilds an impressively broad mix: steamy R&B ("Lazy Love"), bighearted dance pop ("Let Me Love You [Until You Learn to Love Yourself]") and hip-hop soul ("Don't Make 'Em Like You," with a sick slow-mo groove and a charming Wiz Khalifa rap), even a country crossover ballad ("She Is"). Still, as peers like Frank Ocean and Miguel boldly reimagine commercial R&B, this often feels less like vision than parsing market research.

Listen to'R.E.D.' 

From The Archives Issue 1170: November 22, 2012
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