Review: 'RE / BL' — Rebecca Black

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 at 1:35 PM

Rebecca​ ​Black​ ​came​ ​back​ ​to​ ​the​ ​music​ ​scene​ ​last​ ​Friday,​ ​Friday​ ​with​ ​her​ ​debut​ ​album “RE​ ​/​ ​BL”​ ​for​ ​us​ ​to​ ​get​ ​down​ ​to.​ ​Luckily,​ ​Black​ ​has​ ​long​ ​since​ ​ditched​ ​Ark​ ​Music​ ​Factory,​ ​the label​ ​that​ ​produced​ ​and​ ​wrote​ ​the​ ​inescapable​ ​“Friday”​ ​in​ ​2011.​ ​Although​ ​Black​ ​has​ ​released several​ ​singles​ ​since​ ​her​ ​first​ ​viral​ ​hit,​ ​this​ ​is​ ​her​ ​first​ ​completed​ ​album. 

 This​ ​album​ ​is​ ​a​ ​short​ ​and​ ​to​ ​the​ ​point​ ​debut​ ​with​ ​only​ ​six​ ​songs.​ ​The​ ​lyrics​ ​document Black’s​ ​feelings​ ​about​ ​coming​ ​of​ ​age​ ​and​ ​her​ ​relationships.​ ​This​ ​more​ ​mature​ ​subject​ ​matter pairs​ ​smoothly​ ​with​ ​an​ ​album​ ​that​ ​has​ ​all​ ​the​ ​modern​ ​conventions​ ​of​ ​pop. 

 The first​ ​track​ ​“Heart​ ​Full​ ​of​ ​Scars”​ ​reminds​ ​us​ ​that​ ​Black​ ​is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​same​ ​doe-eyed​ ​preteen we​ ​were​ ​first​ ​introduced​ ​to.​ ​The​ ​expletives​ ​and​ ​lust​ ​for​ ​life​ ​message​ ​of​ ​the​ ​song​ ​shows​ ​the​ ​world that​ ​she’s​ ​older​ ​now and​ ​has​ ​a​ ​RE​ ​/​ ​BL​ ​/​ ​IOUS​ ​side​ ​too. 

 The final​ ​Track,​ ​“The​ ​Great​ ​Divide,”​ ​brings​ ​some​ ​more​ ​sensitive​ ​moments​ ​to​ ​the​ ​record​ ​and ends​ ​grandly.​ ​The​ ​song​ ​starts​ ​with​ ​simple​ ​instrumentation​ ​which​ ​builds​ ​cinematically​ ​throughout the​ ​song​ ​as​ ​a​ ​booming​ ​bass​ ​drum​ ​and​ ​an​ ​EDM​ ​oriented​ ​beat.​ ​The​ ​lyrics​ ​detail​ ​a​ ​person​ ​and relationship​ ​Black​ ​is​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​leave​ ​in​ ​the​ ​past.​ ​“Wash​ ​my​ ​hands,​ ​turn​ ​my​ ​back I​ ​don't​ ​need​ ​the​ ​memories​ ​we​ ​had,”​ ​is​ ​a​ ​cathartic​ ​release​ ​and​ ​another​ ​effect​ ​of​ ​growing​ ​up. 

 Just​ ​as​ ​pop​ ​can​ ​break​ ​molds​ ​every​ ​few​ ​years,​ ​it​ ​also​ ​has​ ​the​ ​tendency​ ​to​ ​sound homogenized​ ​and​ ​stagnant.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​something​ ​that​ ​happens​ ​a​ ​few​ ​times​ ​on​ ​“RE​ ​/​ ​BL”​ ​but​ ​it​ ​is not​ ​so​ ​surprising.​ ​Tracks​ ​“Heart​ ​Full​ ​of​ ​Scars”​ ​and​ ​“Foolish”​ ​feature​ ​that​ ​odd​ ​high-pitched​ ​and muffled​ ​vocal​ ​modulation​ ​effect​ ​that’s​ ​been​ ​surfacing​ ​in​ ​songs​ ​like​ ​Justin​ ​Bieber’s​ ​“Sorry.”​ ​There is​ ​not​ ​much​ ​that​ ​is​ ​extremely​ ​distinct​ ​musically​ ​from​ ​other​ ​pop​ ​music​ ​you​ ​would​ ​hear​ ​on​ ​the radio.  “Satellite”​ ​was​ ​another​ ​example​ ​of​ ​pop​ ​influence,​ ​but​ ​this​ ​time​ ​done​ ​a​ ​little​ ​bit​ ​better.​ ​The vocals​ ​are​ ​layered​ ​in​ ​such​ ​a​ ​way​ ​that​ ​it​ ​reminds​ ​me​ ​of​ ​the​ ​way​ ​Lorde​ ​tracks​ ​hers,​ ​but​ ​without the​ ​dark​ ​undertones​ ​that​ ​Lorde​ ​serves​ ​up. The​ ​tameness​ ​in​ ​the​ ​neatly​ ​arranged​ ​harmonies​ ​suits the​ ​song​ ​as​ ​a​ ​sensitive​ ​and​ ​slow​ ​pop​ ​ballad. 

 However,​ ​there​ ​was​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​that​ ​impressed​ ​me​ ​on​ ​this​ ​album,​ ​especially​ ​Black’s​ ​vocal improvement​ ​and​ ​performance.​ ​There​ ​was​ ​not​ ​a​ ​song​ ​on​ ​the​ ​album​ ​where​ ​her​ ​vocals​ ​came across​ ​as​ ​weak​ ​or​ ​underwhelming.​ ​She​ ​has​ ​a​ ​versatile​ ​range​ ​and​ ​her​ ​high​ ​notes​ ​stay​ ​dynamic, especially​ ​on​ ​“The​ ​Great​ ​Divide.” 

 There​ ​was​ ​also​ ​a​ ​really​ ​interesting​ ​moment​ ​with​ ​the​ ​crunchy,​ ​plastic​ ​sounding​ ​guitars during​ ​the​ ​chorus​ ​of​ ​“Wasted​ ​Youth.”​ ​This​ ​fit​ ​right​ ​in​ ​for​ ​a​ ​bittersweet​ ​and​ ​punchy​ ​song​ ​about getting​ ​older​ ​and​ ​not​ ​regretting​ ​your​ ​old​ ​mistakes. 

 While​ ​“RE​ ​/​ ​BL”​ ​definitely​ ​meets​ ​all​ ​the​ ​conventions​ ​of​ ​a​ ​coming-of-age​ ​pop​ ​album,​ ​there is​ ​not​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​that​ ​separates​ ​this​ ​from​ ​any​ ​other​ ​mainstream​ ​pop​ ​album.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​no​ ​doubt​ ​that Rebecca​ ​Black​ ​has​ ​come​ ​far​ ​in​ ​her​ ​musical​ ​journey​ ​since​ ​her​ ​awkward​ ​days​ ​singing​ ​about​ ​her weekend.​

 ​It​ ​can​ ​be​ ​easy​ ​to​ ​dismiss​ ​an​ ​album​ ​when​ ​the​ ​first​ ​ever​ ​release​ ​by​ ​the​ ​artist​ ​was​ ​turned into​ ​a​ ​viral​ ​meme,​ ​but​ ​Black​ ​proves​ ​that​ ​she​ ​is​ ​a​ ​songwriter​ ​deserving​ ​of​ ​legitimate​ ​digestion and​ ​critique.​ ​And​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​day,​ ​who​ ​doesn’t​ ​like​ ​a​ ​decent​ ​pop​ ​tune? 

Standout​ ​Tracks:​ "​Satellite" and "​The​ ​Great​ ​Divide"

Livia Homerski is a staff writer for The Spectator.

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