We gave it a C+
Charlie Puth broke out in 2015 with “See You Again,” his tribute with Wiz Khalifa to the late actor Paul Walker for the Furious 7 soundtrack. The song chewed through YouTube records for the better part of the year, becoming the fastest music video to ever break a billion streams. It also spent twelve weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, tying the all-time record for a rap song, and scored Khalifa the biggest hit of his career. But no one was paying complete attention to Wiz. Instead, everyone wanted to know who was slinging the track’s crystal clear hook.
Now Puth, who got his start uploading homemade videos on YouTube and has penned cuts for Jason Derulo and Pitbull, is making his formal introduction as a solo pop star with Nine Track Mind. He’s made his ambitions clear early with the album’s lead singles—the inescapable and irritating “Marvin Gaye” and “One Call Away”—but the 11-track collection here won’t get him into the same clubhouse as Justin Timberlake.
There’s no doubt Puth has pipes. Occasionally, like on the baby-making bedroom jam “Suffer” and the breathy Selena Gomez-collab “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” he unleashes his sweet, crisp upper register. But these moments are too rare: Much of the album is G-Rated tales of love (songs about beautiful girls and boys who love them) drowning in an ocean of power-pop gloss. When he laments “I’ll try to go find some other high,” you might do the same.