Based on the fanatical shrieks of women all across the globe, it’s hard to believe that Trey Songz was once a mere blip on the radar of R&B singers. Once playing the background to rappers such as Twista, Trey has solidified himself as a headline act capable of making female concertgoers faint. For his fourth studio album, Passion, Pain & Pleasure, Trey sticks to the script, enlisting a myriad of R&B producers as well as a few guests to maintain his mass appeal.
Trey Songz’s opening remarks on “Love Faces” are sure to get panties wet all over the world. The R. Kelly-esque slow jam is littered with blatant sexual overtones, which would be hard for a lot of men to get away with, but naturally Trey comes off suave as ever (“don’t it feel good when I touch on it?/wouldn’t it be nice if all night I was in you?“). The same idea plays throughout the Drake collaboration, “The Usual,” later in the album, which features Trey effortlessly getting away with a song for the ladies referencing their pelvic region getting beaten up. “Message” features Trey singing over soothing synthesizer riff accompanied by a compressed southern clap-snare. The aforementioned song displays Trey Songz’s pop sensibilities, as he takes a somewhat complex chorus and makes it relentlessly catchy. Once again Trey caters to the female listener, singing about “taking his time” to massage a special a lady, instead of rushing into the bedroom. “Alone” has the potential to move everyone in the club, as he touches on picking up another lucky lady in hopes of spending some one-on-one time with her. It comes as no surprise that this song features nearly every cliché line you would expect from a pop R&B jam, including references to expensive cars, “sipping on bub” and chemistry that’s “off the chain.” However if anyone can pull this off without sounding corny, it’s Trey Songz, and as it turns out, this is one of the most enjoyable tracks on the Passion.
Unfortunately, “Bottoms Up” fails to capitalize on the momentum of “Alone.” Although the song is one of Passion’s lead singles, Trey seems out of his element over the bass-heavy Kane Beatz production. That’s not to say this song is atrocious, but it’s not far from the highpoint of Passion, Pain & Pleasure. Nicki Minaj’s pitchy delivery on the single is commendable though, especially when she shifts the dynamic range of her voice to sound like a floozy asking Trey to buy her a drink. The Mario Winans-produced “Can’t Be Friends” is packed with sentimental content. Trey reflects on how he can’t repair a relationship after crossing the line between friends and lovers with such emotion that it seems likely that this was based on actual events. The ’90s style jazz production on “Please Return My Call” surpasses many of the instrumentals used throughout Passion, Pain & Pleasure. The beautifully processed synth arrangement overshadows the sappy content of the track’s lyrics, which are probably for the best. This is a perfect candidate for a mid-wedding dance song. This flawlessly transitions into “Made to Be Together.” Nevertheless, by time Eric Hudson’s silky production enters listeners’ ears, the song’s concept seems stale. There’s only so much talk about stopping your lover from walking out the door that one person can take, and by nine songs into Passion, this talk is redundant. Once again, this isn’t a lackluster track; it simply becomes difficult to differentiate one song from another when Trey has an extensive catalogue that falls into the same category of tune. The “Pain,” “Pleasure,” and “Passion” interludes are well placed and illustrate Trey’s sensational vocal ability, proving that he’s more than a one-trick R&B pony. The album skates by with “Doorbell” and “Unfortunate” before the tempo picks up with the Travis Barker assisted “Blind,” which is stands out amongst Passion’s seventeen tracks. “Red Lipstick” has to be the album’s greatest miss. There’s something off-putting about Trey’s familiar delivery over the experimental, electronic-infused, slow beat. The same can be said for Passion’s closing track, “You Just Need Me.”
Trey Songz “Can’t Be Friends”
The phrase less is more can be applied to Trey Songz’s fourth album. Arguably, the album would have a greater impact if it were cut down by at least five songs. There are very few tracks that are actually unpleasant, but then again there are only a handful of songs that differ from one another. Regardless, Trey knows what his fans want to hear and it’s worth noting that he hasn’t varied his delivery enough to alienate any of them. Most longtime Trey Songz fans will certainly enjoy Passion, Pain & Pleasure while others will realize Trey has been there and done that.
Trey Songz “Bottoms Up” ft Nicki Minaj