Beauty is in the ear of the beholder
hazyphonics | Orange County, CA | 07/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After three years of vacillating opinions about this album, I have fallen in love with it.
Schizophrenic is a sonic pleasure that is remarkable in delivery, density and diversity. Chasez's only album thus far has been crafted so that every nook and cranny is covered with elements of sound, reassuring the listener that yes, in this age of processed beats, enhanced vocals and rudimentary subject matter sometimes music really is an artist's means of expression after all. It isn't perfect, it may be a tad too lengthy, it may have no musical direction, it may use sex as its main subject too many times but that's just where his creativity led him. I can't say that it will appeal to everyone. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder, as the linear notes read, and it is with adoration that I write this review, enamored with everything about this album.
"Some Girls" is made up of hand claps, thumping dancefloor beats and a rhythmic talking delivery. There's nothing artsy-fartsy about it - it's just a nice midtempo urban song or a typical macho-man-on-the-dancefloor song, if you will. Judging by the subject matter and easy-to-digest groove Jive geared the song towards mainstream success, but as the first track it's fairly unrepresentative of the album as a whole - you would initially think Chasez was following in the footsteps of that other NSYNC member as a r&b/hip hop crooner.
Chasez displays a Stevie Wonder-esque delivery on "She Got Me", a spacey piece of funk that bears resemblance to work by Jamiroquai. Acoustic rhythm guitars are present, as they are alot through this album, and the additional vocal production produced many sweet harmonies that enhanced the main vocal well.
The opening riff and rhythmic percussion moves from left to right on "100 Ways", a bouncy song that makes a spectacle out of Chasez's sexually charged persona. His vocals are that of a sleazy pusher with the low provocative growls of Prince and Johnny Bravo's bravado. If you listen, there are various screams, growls, moans, guitar riffs, electronic sounds and meaningless rambles at random times throughout the song, sometimes on the left channel, sometimes on the right, or sometimes moving in between them. The lyrics are sleazy ("speak your mind / 100 ways") and the music is just so fun, so frenetic that it's hard to keep still.
"Mercy" is a dip into reggae. It is a midtempo with an emphasis on bass and techno rhythms. Chasez's vocals are passionate and his ability to deliver genuine emotion into his music is evident as he flies through lines like "it's the insanity eating at the man in me" while sounding both like a regretful lover and, well, an insane one.
"Build My World" is one of three great ballads on the album. It contains an easy melody and easy rhyme scheme ("lazy days / i'm in a hazy phase / of waiting countless ways / in which my life goes crazy") he delivers a tender and somewhat agnsty vocal that is remnant of his boyband days; however, given that he has now shed his boyband roots there is no room for the juvenille, whiney backing vocals of Timberlake and Chasez is allowed to display the full range of his voice. The little things - the "oohs" and "ahs", the claps, the random electronic beeps - all mesh so well with each other and indicate that the Schizo production team weren't intending on making your run-of-the-mill ballad. The song ends with a Prince-like falsetto, a plea to his lover as his vocals sway between the left and right channels.
Chasez is accompanied by an acoustic guitar, percussion and his own handclaps as he breezes through "Something Special." Once again his vocals are on display and if you haven't realized by now, he is no average teen pop singer. He switches between sweet - sensitive - annoying - cocky personas very well. After the second chorus the drums kick in, the acoustic is playing rhythm again and he whistles a bouncy tune before everything except the percussion halts. Then drums then kick back in full effect and everything comes together as he vocally vamps his way to the song's end. It's joyful and a real trip.
"If You Were My Girl" boasts a great electronic beat and wild vocals. It's not meant to be taken seriously, like most of Schizophrenic, and is insanely fun - with every "yeah!" and "oh mama!" the enjoyment factor hits the ceiling and you get the refreshing feeling that Chasez is having a blast recording his debut.
Basement Jaxx contribute on "Shake it", an electronica dancefloor classic that is beat-heavy and boasts the usual excellent sultry vocals. The sexual content of the song (and the album) is not tactless, as big label pop usually is, but colorful and energetic, telling tales of sexual escapades with genuine honesty and fun, good-natured humor.
"All Day Long I Dream About Sex" starts with an acoustic riff and then booms into what a should have been a club hit. ADIDAS is a electronic trip through Chasez's mind and breaks in structure for an awesome electronica - techno dance break that not-so-subtly ellicits a rump-shaking effect. Again, at least the lyrical side shouldn't be patronized so much; the chanting chorus should be evidence that ADIDAS is all about the upbeat, nod-your-head-and-jump-up-and-down side of music that doesn't look to be anything but entertaining.
"One Night Stand" begins with dialogue between Chasez and a woman ("I was wondering... do you want to ffff-") and continues into another funky musical escapade. Once again as he delivers the lines ("i'm going to take you on a riiiiiiiide / make you want to jump against the skyyyyyyy") you just want to jump for joy at his enthusiasm.
"Come to Me" is beat-heavy with heavy synths and horns and Chasez tells a story about missing his lover. Believe me, the song is more interesting than its subject matter indicates. He sneaks a reference to masturbation in and delivers his vocals in a much more subdued manner than the he had in the last couple tracks. The vocals, beat and vocal harmonies create a hypnotic mood yet the song would fit at a nightclub.
Chasez is back to being the sensitive crooner in "Dear Goodbye", a song about a mourning lover. Passionate vocals once again are evident, and he shows his range well. At around 3:18 there is the subtle sound of sand falling (time slipping away, perhaps) on the right channel - nothing too overwhelming but another example of the musical depth of the album. It can be a bit of a lull if you're not in the mood, but balladry is definitely an area that Chasez has mastered.
He displays Sting-like vocals on "Everything You Want", a song about controlling spending habits while traveling. It is a funky tune with funky guitars and a funky melody - just plain funky.
"Lose Myself" is the only piano-based song on the album. The vocals are dreamy, soft and sensitive ("knocked unconscious / walking on water / cause i'm thinking of you") and Chasez is never grating when he hits the high notes. (Timberlake, on the other hand...) The vocal harmonies are beautiful as are the strings and finger picking at ends the song.
"Right Here By Your Side" is catchy and easy to digest but still likeable. There are percussive instruments and an acoustic guitar and Chasez sings a song to his lover ("the red stains on your lips / i'll clean them off with my lips") It is nicely short for such a straightforward pop song.
"Blowing Me Up (With Your Love)" is similar to Some Girls but with a less casual delivery. It contains a thumping beat and as always the vocals sound very enthused. This song (recorded for the Drumline soundtrack) and its positive reception encouraged the recording of this album."