Much of R&B has been devoted to negotiating the relationship between men and women, and Trey Songz has always been traditional in that regard. His new album, Chapter V is organized neatly into three sections. The first and longest section is a hedonistic celebration of the player lifestyle (note the line "I only came for the bitches and the drinks," from the song "2 Reasons"). That's followed by slowed-down laments of a love wasted; the album ends with two alternate-ending anthems. Spoiler alert: Trey ends up happy and/or sad, depending on which song you take more seriously.
Songz hasn't released an album since 2010, and one might think that Chapter V would at least react to recent developments in R&Bperhaps it would include a couple of existential investigations into the idea of religion as a metaphor for unrequited love, or detail a drug-sparked orgy. Musically, he's hardly shifted from the sounds of his last album, an upbeat, high-sheen R&B with the occasional synth pattern or guitar thrown in for exoticism. And though he does rap a bit on "Playin' Hard" and (the great) "Pretty Girl's Lie," he mostly sticks to his guns (gunz?), a decaf version of R. Kelly with a slightly weaker voice and without Kelly's gift for tawdry, compelling songwriting. More »