Where “Blurred Lines” — Thicke’s 2013 hit with Pharrell and T.I. — was a (perhaps too accurate) pastiche of mid-Seventies R&B, “Back Together” boasts a bumping Studio 54 disco beat and buzzsaw synths reminiscent of the electro-pop surge led by Justice and Daft Punk. Thicke, however, sounds as soulful as ever, breezily crooning devoted paeans to a destructive love over Martin’s catchy production.
Minaj, meanwhile, leaves a trail of scorched earth on the song, despite her relatively brief appearance. Still, it’s enough to warrant a complete sonic shift as the MC drops references to Mary Poppins, Tupac and Hillary Clinton — “Used to call me Hillary cause I still ride ’em,” pronounced, of course, “Rodham” — over a horn-laden funk breakdown.
For Thicke, the singer hopes “Back Together” will be a turning point after “Blurred Lines,” his first Number One song, faced a fierce backlash. Amidst claims that the song’s lyrics propagated rape culture, Thicke was successfully sued by the estate of Marvin Gaye, who claimed “Blurred Lines” ripped off “Got to Give It Up.”
In the midst of the trial, Thicke separated from his wife, Paula Patton, whom he proceeded to serenade on his saccharine follow-up, Paula. The LP performed poorly, both critically and commercially, and in a recent interview with The New York Times, Thicke admitted, “What I thought was romantic was just embarrassing… So I shut everything down. I took some time off to be with my son, and to be with my family and close friends. And the more time I took off, the more everything became clear.”
“Back Together” follows the previously released ballad, “Morning Sun,” also tentatively the title of his new album, per the Times story. The LP is expected to see release this year.