The debate surrounding Robin Thicke’s latest album, and especially the video for his No. 1 single “Blurred Lines,” has been hearty and fascinating but ultimately unnecessary. Chatter all you want about topless women and his misogynistic lyrics, but is anyone going to rest easier knowing that (as he claimed to Rolling Stone) he’s really singing “big dick for you” to his wife?
Because the plain fact is that Blurred Lines is not a deep album. These 11 songs are all about surface concerns: sex not romance, getting drunk/stoned and getting lost in club sounds and living “The Good Life.” Sure, there’s the token, “I’ll love you forever” ballad, but that’s tucked away towards the end of the album when attention spans will have waned and/or jumped back to the title track.
The real discussion should be about the timing of this album’s release. It might be good as the mp3-buying public might be ready for another pop star trying to ape Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson following similar efforts by Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake. But it could also result in some fatigue at hearing yet another chiming guitar line and Tony Manero-suited beat, capped off with a blue-eyed soul falsetto.
Thicke does his best with these tracks, hitting all the right sultry vocal notes, but really the beats and production aren’t doing him any favors. Apart from Pharrell’s fine homage to Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” on the title track, no one else feels like they’re putting their all into these proceedings. Timbaland’s clattering, buzzing “Take It Easy On Me” has none of the swing or wit of anything on 20/20 Experience, and the Dr. Luke/Cirkut track “Give It 2 U” takes in the wobble and buzz of dubstep but leaves out any body rocking qualities.
The trajectory of Thicke’s career has been an interesting one, with him following his particular muse where it wants to go and then finding the right people to see his vision through. It’s unfortunate though that the 36-year-old hasn’t found anyone to really challenge his fine singing and songwriting abilities. He’s got the chops; why not go outside the relative comfort zone of producers like the Neptunes and Timbaland to see what potential magic could result?