Thursday, 1 November 2012

Brandy; Two Eleven – Track by Track Review

Brandy made her long awaited comeback this year with her sixth studio album, ‘Two Eleven’. While the lead single ‘Put It Down’ was a cutting edge up-tempo number, this doesn’t reflect the sound of ‘Two Eleven’ as a whole, which leans more towards the smooth mid-tempo jams of Brandy’s third album, ‘Full Moon’. ‘Two Eleven’ isn’t packed with a host of commercial hits but this collection of songs works extremely well as a whole, with a consistent vibe that shows off the fantastic range of Brandy’s soft, husky voice. Let’s take a breakdown of the album, song by song, with some audio clips for my favourite tracks. And for an overview of Brandy's career to date, click here for her classic videos and her most underrated tracks so far.
1)   Intro Sure it has a cool beat but it’s slightly pointless. I would have liked to have heard Brandy’s vocals on this, or at least a spoken word intro.

2) Wildest Dreams – This is the second official release from the album and I love it. ‘Wildest Dreams’ has a heartfelt chorus about the joys of love but is sung with a chilled vibe that somehow works brilliantly. ‘Wildest Dreams’ improves and improves with every listen. Here's the official promo!

3)   So Sick This track shows a fed-up Brandy singing about a relationship that isn’t working anymore, with a cool, detached tone that is full of sass, like she can’t be bothered with the effort of sustaining the relationship any further. It doesn’t have an immediate hook but ‘So Sick’ is definitely a grower.

4)   Slower ‘Slower’ shows Brandy being more open about her sexuality than she has in the past, singing provocatively but without being crass. The chorus is deceptively simple but is another grower that stands out the more you listen to the album.

5)   No Such Thing As Too Late The first ballad on ‘Two Eleven’ is heartfelt and emotional, with lyrics about how important it is too hold onto a relationship if it’s worth fighting for. Nice song but it blends into the background a little.

6)   Let Me Go Brandy’s sassy plea to stay with her man is probably the album track that bears the most resemblance to lead single ‘Put It Down’, with a cool modern edge, but it can be a bit repetitive at times.

7)   Without You This song sees Brandy apologise for her actions, acknowledging that relationships are a two-way thing. It’s a proper love song but with a faster tempo and drums. Also check out Brandy’s high note in the chorus.

8)   Put It Down This single should have been a huge hit but for some reason, it was mostly ignored by the public, which is a shame because it’s a cutting edge number that shows an evolution in Brandy’s sound. Chris Brown’s appearance is mostly unnecessary but the song still works, with a ridiculously catchy hook that gets in your brain and doesn’t let go.

9)   Hardly Breathing This atmospheric, haunting song is about how the pain of a relationship can bring you almost to the point of death. Brandy’s strong vocals turn the song into a defiant plea to escape and it’s definitely one of my favourite album tracks.    

10) Do You Know What You Have? Here’s yet another track about Brandy being wronged by a man and being taken for granted. Clearly she must have had a lot of man trouble in the past. I do like this song though, with Brandy just casually putting the man down with her usual cool sass.

11)  Scared of Beautiful – This reminds me of ‘Hardly Breathing’ with its atmospheric husky vocals and despite its silly title, the track contains great lyrics about being honest and open, unafraid of love. Great song.

12) Wish Your Love Away – Brandy’s voice sounds sweet here but when you listen closely to the lyrics, ‘Wish Your Love Away’ is actually quite a sad song about longing to be less attached to her man as it causes too much pain. This is a beautiful song with some unusual production involving some kind of Japanese instruments.

13) Paint This House – Despite some nice backing vocals, this is a pretty dull track about spreading love in a new home and it’s definitely my least favourite song on the album.

Bonus Tracks (Deluxe Version)

14) Can You Hear Me Now? Even though this is a bonus track, ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’ is one of my favourite songs on the album by far. Danja’s production makes this another sexy track like ‘Slower’ but with more pace and sensuality. Brandy’s deep vocals combine with the pulsating beat to create a very intimate atmosphere. Love it.

15) Music – This chilled out track is nice enough but it was a good choice to keep this love letter to music as a bonus track.

16)  What You Need – Here’s another great bonus track which starts off as an orchestral ballad but then breaks down into a record skipping chorus with a throbbing bass line. This sexy song switches back and forth between the two styles and while it shouldn’t work, I think it does. You might disagree.
17)  Outro – I’m not sure why Brandy bothered to include this outro, as it’s very similar to the intro and could have benefited once again from some vocal input.

Should download - Slower, Hardly Breathing, Scared of Beautiful, Can You Hear Me Now?

So there you have it. Even as the standard edition, I feel that ‘Two Eleven’ is too long and slightly repetitive in places but Brandy’s voice has improved even more with age and I love it as much as I did back in the day. I would definitely recommend ‘Two Eleven’ for any fans of Brandy’s work or even if you’re just hankering for some of the smooth RnB that was huge back in the late 90s. I’m not saying the album is dated by any means but few artists have continued singing RnB music like this and it’s great to see Brandy back in the charts once again.

Let me know what you think of my review and make sure you buy the album. Remember to like and share! Thanks.         

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