Review: John Legend – Love in the Future
Published on September 9th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
John Legend’s fourth album Love in the Future is a sporadically rewarding yet ultimately frustrating tug of war between genuinely inspired songwriting and wishy washy, widescreen balladry…if you will, a sort of Stevie Wonder vs Disney ‘wonder’ affair.
The production, handled by Legend in tandem with Kanye West and Dave Tozer, is largely splendid but is only occasionally granted the songs to match: “Open Your Eyes” is sufficiently wondrous of melody to bring to mind ELO, a notion banged back into line by its own bumping beat.
Its contrast with the brooding minimalism of set-opener “The Beginning” is striking, while the Rick Ross-featuring “Who Do We Think We Are” sounds a bit like a futuristic Marvin Gaye.
Single “Made to Love”, meanwhile, takes flight so spectacularly at its climax that you may wonder why it spent the previous however many minutes moping about.
But hey, it merits the benefit of our doubt, and it’s the sort of soulful lament set to ‘edgy’ production that folk seem to lap up.
“Hold on Longer” and “Angel (Interlude)” are further exponents of the more angular, less tonal songwriting that’s so becoming of Legend…if only they weren’t made to share living space with the irksome melodrama of “All of Me” and “Dreams”, the latter of which actually takes some captivating twists and turns below its grating vocal topsoil.
That’s Love in the Future as a microcosm. A strong end might’ve been worth an extra half quail, but “Caught Up” is alas something of a damp squib, atoning for this by enabling us to use the phrase ‘damp squib’. It’s fun to say and fun to write.
All in all, there’s some marvellous stuff on Love in the Future and some forgettable, nay regrettable, stuff too. The iTunes generation in full swing, then.
Love in the Future is out now on Getting Out Our Dreams and Columbia Records.
Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!