If you haven’t sung along to “I’m Like a Bird” while driving down an open road then you haven’t lived. In addition to being a coming-of-age anthem, “I’m Like a Bird” was Canadian songstress Nelly Furtado‘s first breakout song. Starting off as a folksy soul in the industry, she transcended into the pop scene with the 2006 release Loose. Furtado’s effortless energy and animation coupled with Timbaland’s notorious production style made for a massively enjoyable project, that I believe is one of the top pop albums of all time. Furtado’s last track on that album was “All Good Things Come to an End”, which turned out to hit the nail all too well on the head, as her career went on a decline from there.
Mi Plan and The Spirit Indestructible were her next two projects and didn’t gain as much attention or sales as her previous powerhouse. Furtado’s latest release, The Ride, marks Furtado’s exploration into the indie pop world.
Production is largely done by indie pop hit maker, John Congleton, who is responsible for producing tracks for some of the top indie and alt-pop acts artists out there, such as Wild Nothings, Franz Ferdinand, and Sigur Ros.
Nelly Furtado’s journey into indie pop mirrors fellow Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen’s transformation, who went from a fresh-faced pop one-hit-wonder into an edgy alt-pop savior, with a surprisingly impressive arsenal of music. However, Jepsen’s change into indie pop seemed like a natural progression, while Furtado’s seems cringingly formulaic.
Each track on the album seems to be taken right from the throwaways from some more notable indie acts. The most true-to-self track on the album is the opener “Cold Hard Truth”, which used infectious grating synths and even cowbell (cue Saturday Night Live joke here), as well as Furtado’s vocals providing a very catchy sing-along.
The next track “Flatline” feels all over the place. A Gaga-esque synth pattern and ballad chorus feel uncomfortably out of place for Furtado. Even worse, a really odd beat change feels abrupt and Furtado provides underlay vocals in the tone of CocoRosie and doesn’t quite work for Furtado’s usual style.
“Carnival Games” is another track that sounds out of place and if I didn’t know this was Furtado’s album, I would bet that it was a Miley Cyrus song. The airy outro of the song is gorgeous and I’d love this explored more as a full track.
The single from the album “Pipe Dreams” is definitely my favorite off the track and if the atmosphere given off of this track was used all the way uniformly throughout The Ride I believe that it would have been an amazing project. “Pipe Dreams” is an ethereal fairy dream of echoing synths and organ solos that meshes together in a tantalizing soup of blissfulness.
The next track “Palaces” rips me out of the fuzzy feeling with an in-your-face track that doesn’t fit in with the sonic theme of any of the other tracks.
All in all, The Ride lacks the cohesion needed to truly break into a genre and take it by the reigns. Hopefully, Furtado’s next effort will be a lot more polished.