24.09.2009, Words by Charlie Jones

Love Vs Money

The-Dream from Atlanta is mainly known for being the man behind Rihanna’s Umbrella and has further written and produced singles for Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Madonna and Diddy. Absolutely bursting with creativity and anything but afraid to step in the spotlight himself, he has recently unleashed the second album as a solo artist. Reminiscent of R. Kelly not only regarding the delicate falsetto singing but also the lyrics that are a well-balanced mixture between blunt praise of his bedroom performances and overly romantic crooner kitsch, walking a thin line that depicts him both as a role model for thugged out aspiring ladykillers as well as the dream lover that the regular flygirl would like to call “my boo”. For those who don’t belong to either of these groups, it results in pure entertainment when The-Dream promises to “circle the stars and bring you one back” one minute just to be “all up on you like a monster truck” the next, not without telling his girl to “call your beautician cause your hair is gon’ need fixin’”, pragmatically adding that she “should’ve got braids”.

For the most part ‘Love vs. Money’ consists of club tracks and slow jams interweaving mulberry silk synths and sweet, sugary melodies with multiple layers of instantly catchy vocals, served as hot molasses dripping with future-funk. Thoroughly laced with playful solos, bridges and full of little picturesque twists and turns including guest appearances by Mariah Carey and Kanye West, this album sets a benchmark in cutting-edge songcraft. The zenith is reached with the six-and-a-half minutes epic Fancy, which starts with a tender piano riff and is continuously enriched with accompanying instruments ranging from an accordeon, rhodes and angelic harps to disco strings – the outcome is a modern symphony.

In the light of all this, I am left without a legit explanation for both the lack of European mainstream success and heavy airplay for The-Dream, as well as the currently unrequited love due from critics and music snobs. Maybe it’s the absence of an actual number one single that keeps the vast amount of listeners sleeping over here, which is also the only reason for me hesitating to give this masterpiece of a sophisticated pop album the full score. (9)

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