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Something Else (Deluxe Edition)

Robin Thicke

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Album Review

Looking like a Europop album from 1997 or 1998, Something Else's sleeve design would be much more indicative if it grafted a bunch of little Robin Thicke heads onto each dancing and playing body in Ernie Barnes' Back to Sugar Shack, the painting used for Marvin Gaye's I Want You. Not only would it be apt, it would play to Thicke's predilection for populating his covers with several images of himself. But it would obviously cause some problems. While a few songs do modernize the sound and feel of Gaye's steamy 1976 classic — filled as they are with serene sexual energy and lush, impeccably layered arrangements built on rolling bongos, liquid basslines, and Thicke's acutely Gaye-indebted upper register — there are several inspirations floating throughout, including indications that Thicke has a deeper understanding of Brazilian music, correctly believes that Philadelphia International did not flame out in the mid-'70s, and has transitioned into doing rocking R&B à la Van Hunt (cool, relaxed, natural) rather than pre-New Radicals Gregg Alexander (forced, awkward, unintentionally seriocomic). Following The Evolution of Robin Thicke, which went to the top of the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and reached number five on the Billboard 200 (there was an Oprah appearance), Something Else features improvements in every aspect. From the tropical serenade opener to the album's quietly dazzling true close (the somber Lil Wayne collaboration "Tie My Hands" is really a bonus cut, having already appeared on Tha Carter III), Thicke has shed his affectations to the point where it's much easier to detect the sincerity he once obscured with hubristic tendencies. No longer a show-off, he sounds much more sure of himself; he would not have been able to pull off a socially conscious Southern-styled ballad like "Dreamworld," whether from a writing or singing standpoint, in 2003. Though his sources remain numerous, this is his most focused, least scattered, and least dilettantish set, and it benefits greatly from its brevity relative to The Evolution. That means everything has a deeper resonance — especially the ballads, of which there are several. The man does know his audience. [The Circuit City exclusive edition offers free downloads.]

Biography

Born: 10 March 1977 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the more charismatic, flashy, and commercially successful R&B acts of the 2000s and 2010s, Robin Thicke didn't have the toughest row to hoe to achieve stardom, but he was one of the least likely artists to acquire street credibility. He worked for over a decade as a modestly successful songwriter and fledgling solo artist prior to breaking through — assisted by the Neptunes — with 2006's The Evolution of Robin Thicke. On that album, his inspirations, ranging from '70s Marvin...
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Something Else (Deluxe Edition), Robin Thicke
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