Listening to this was like hearing a middle schooler perform a classic song like “Imagine” at a talent show. The kid might be a very capable singer and that is nice but they have no idea how to emote in a properly to convey the emotion behind what they are singing and at best can try to imitate the original artist the best they can. This is how I felt when hearing Charlie Puth trying to deliver these songs. The only difference is none of these songs are nearly as good as “Imagine” so it just makes it seem even worse.
If you do not know, Charlie Puth is a singer-songwriter who came from YouTube and made it big with the song “See You Again” with Wiz Khalifa which was famously known as a tribute to Paul Walker. People loved this song, I did not finding it mostly insincere and not well put together. The next thing I heard from Puth was “Marvin Gaye” with Meghan Trainor…we will get to that. Needless to say, I was expecting nothing good from Nine Track Mind which had the nerve to be twelve tracks instead of the promised nine.
As you can probably tell, I did not like this album. It was actually pretty painful at parts if I am being totally honest. The first thing that I will say is the lyrics on this album are just awful. At their best they are unoriginally sweet like the opening track but most of the time they are uninspired, awkward, and boring. A song like “As You Are” is an excellent example as Puth keeps hammering the point that he will “climb Mount Kilimanjaro a thousand times” for his loved one. Is that even something people say? It is just unpleasant to hear and there are plenty of other examples of this.
Another song that annoyed me was “My Gospel” which I guess was supposed to be the “edgy” song on the album. Puth sings about robbing a bank and blowing his money on a limo just so he could make out with his girl in the back. That is just the first verse. Not only do the lyrics not work at all to convey this bad boy image but Puth’s vulnerable and clean vocal deliver makes him seem like someone who would never do anything like this. This is honestly one of the things that works against this album the most. Everything from the vocals to the production seem so sanitized and uninteresting that it is hard to take this as an original or interesting piece of art.
There are a couple duets on this album which sadly brought nothing to this album. Shy Carter’s contributions to the aforementioned “As You Are” were probably the best but she still did not fit very well on the song. It is probably telling of my expectations that I was hoping that “We Don’t Talk Anymore” with Selena Gomez could be a standout. Sadly the song is as uninteresting as it could get. The two sing about a past relationship and how they now, believe it or not, do not talk much anymore. This is just nothing that has not been done hundreds of times by much better artists. Gomez sounds bored and Puth fails to deliver any emotive presence.
Then there is “Marvin Gaye.” This is total garbage. It fails on pretty much every level. The piano work is not interesting, there is fake vinyl fuzz that does not make this feel authentic at all. And the lyrics are just awful. Apparently Marvin Gaye’s estate gave Puth permission to make references to his work but I still believe if Gaye were alive he would be angry at this. This song fails to use his name to make anything remotely sexy. They even use song “Mercy Mercy Me,” a song about the environment, in a sexual way. This just makes it feel even less considerate of the man they are using as inspiration. Also, Meghan Trainor’s verse comparing herself to a dog do not help matters.
I cannot think of anyone I could recommend this album to. There is nothing remarkable here to praise. It is mostly inoffensive to a fault and just bland on all levels. Even Puth, who at least has decently vocal abilities even if they are boring, makes songs like “Suffer” almost impossible to listen to as he tries to reach notes that he just cannot hit. There are decent moments of production and most tracks are not painful to listen to. Just whitewashed and sleep-inducing.