Album Review

The-Dream, 'Love King'

June 28, 2010

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By the time The-Dream repeats “make up bag’’ eight times consecutively in “Make Up Bag,’’ you realize that he is reaching into his own bag of tricks that made him a superstar hit-maker. The-Dream is so in love with repetition, it seems plausible that he was nursed while Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine’’ was on continuous replay. On his third solo CD (co-produced by “Tricky’’ Stewart and Los Da Mystro) the formula is beginning to become too transparent, but it doesn’t prevent many songs from delivering small pop epiphanies. Some of these songs would have more impact if The-Dream was a more versatile vocalist, but his limited voice (often masked by multi-tracking) just doesn’t have the elasticity of the sexual lovermen he aspires to, like R. Kelly. Virtually all of the tracks move at the same midtempo clip and are cushioned by synths and clever effects; and the whole set plays as a seamless suite in which he outlines what it takes to be the love king. There have obviously been some dents in the king’s armor, though, as the retribution songs are where The-Dream sounds most engaged, such as “Nikki Part 2’’ and “Fordham University’’ (where the initials are key). Getting burned repeatedly is like a good hook — you tend to remember it. (Out tomorrow) KEN CAPOBIANCO

ESSENTIAL “Nikki Part 2’’