Released September 2009 by Island Records
Once upon a time it was the norm on major pop albums for an artist to work with one producer or team of producers throughout an entire album. However, in recent years it has become more common to create an album as a hodgepodge of sometimes mismatched tracks recorded with various producers. For Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, Mariah Carey has collaborated primarily with the team of The-Dream and "Tricky" Stewart for songwriting and producing throughout the entire album. The result is a unique, cohesive musical glimpse of the inner life of Mariah Carey.
Flights of Vocal Fancy
For fans of Mariah Carey, the quality of her singing and direction of her vocal arrangements are one of the first things looked for in a new album. As has become common since The Emancipation of Mimi, she spends most of her time singing in a midrange that eliminates much of the vocal acrobatics of earlier in her career. However, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel does insert enough moments of vocal fancy to keep most fans happy.
In the sad, painfully slow "H.A.T.E.U," Mariah Carey delivers one of the key refrains in a lower range narcotized vocal haze that serves to emphasize the song's message of the emotional torment of lovers being torn apart. "It's a Wrap" kicks off with classic ethereal Mariah Carey vocal runs followed by an impossibly high range note that has a sonic effect of a small comet zipping through the musical sky. Then there is the glorious vocal workout on "I Want To Know What Love Is" that closes the album. Mariah Carey fans will be standing and cheering.
It's Not So Much Fun Being Mariah Carey?
One of the key messages of Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is that, emotionally at least, it's not always a lot of fun being Mariah Carey. "Obsessed" details anger and anxiety at being stalked. "H.A.T.E.U." explores the emotional pain of being trapped in a relationship where the writing is on the wall. "Up Out My Face" presents anger at an incompatible lover. The album reaches its most painful moments in the elegant "Languishing" about being in a relationship with someone you still don't feel you know after many years. Mariah Carey is left wondering, "Would you reach for me if you saw that I was languishing?" A musical up side of all of this emotional pain is that the gospel catharsis of "I Want To Know What Love Is" is gloriously effective.
Top Tracks on 'Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel'
- "It's a Wrap"
- "Up Out My Face"
- "I Want To Know What Love Is"
Solid Musical Statement
Mariah Carey set out on this album to explore her inner self and lay it bare in song. Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is a solid, cohesive musical statement that works as that very rare thing in today's pop music world, a genuine concept album. Mariah Carey has clearly suffered her share of emotional pain, but she remains standing, and, in the performance of "I Want To Know What Love Is," it sounds like she is positively resolute about heading fearlessly into the future. The recording standards here are of a very high quality, and the songs grow in interest with repeated listening. Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is a worthy addition to the Mariah Carey catalog.