LOS ANGELES: R&B singer and rapper Chris Brown may be trying to redeem his tarnished image, but he has failed to impress critics with his latest album “Fortune,” which was released on Tuesday.
Brown's fifth studio album follows on the heels of his 2011 record “F.A.M.E,” which debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 album chart in March last year and won a Grammy for best R&B album.
But if early reviews are any indication, Fortune appears to be a misfire, as most critics appear to have been unable to ignore Brown's history.
The 23-year-old singer is currently midway through a five-year probation sentence after pleading guilty to beating ex-girlfriend Rihanna on the eve of the Grammys in February 2009.
Three years later, he is unable to shake his bad-boy reputation - last month, he and rapper Drake made headlines after a bloody bar brawl among their respective followers. Time Magazine's Melissa Locker gave both Brown and “Fortune” a damning review, questioning why the music industry had forgiven the singer for his crimes and calling the album “boring.” She urged readers to avoid buying it.
Randall Roberst of the Los Angeles Times gave two out of four stars, calling Fortune “the work of an artist who has gone all-in with a handful of commercial tracks designed to get Our Hero paid and back in America's good graces.”
The album scored 40 out of 100 on the review website Metacritic.com. Entertainment Weekly's Kyle Anderson said the album “furthers the uncomfortable and frustrating disconnect between Brown's hotheaded personal life and his oddly edgeless musical persona,” and gave it a 'C-minus'.
In Britain critics have been unimpressed too. The BBC's Nick Levine said the work delivered “unremarkable mid-tempo RnB,” and called it “cripplingly pointless.” Despite the poor reviews, Fortune topped the iTunes album chart after its release on Tuesday, and Brown has been defiant.
In March, he stormed out of an interview on Good Morning America, tweeting “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now,” after his win in February.
The rapper has avoided interviews to promote the album, but has been plugging it hard on Twitter and doing high-profile performances of its hit single, “Turn Up The Music,” at awards shows.
The lead single is an electronic dance and club-friendly track that has reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Elsewhere, the album features a mix of musical styles, including dance beats on tracks such as the Benny Benassi-produced “Don't Wake Me Up,” heavy bass and electronica on “Bassline” and steamy R&B on “2012” and “Sweet Love.”
Brown also tries to convey his softer side through ballads such as the piano-led “Stuck On Stupid” and acoustic love song “4 Years Old.”
Listeners seeking references to Brown's troubles need look no further than “Don't Judge Me,” in which he sings “Just let the past just be the past ... take me as I am, not who I was.”