Ciara - Beauty Marks
Beauty Marks is the new record from early 2000s standout Ciara and is her first record since 2015's Jackie. Taking time off to raise a family, have an often publicized relationship with Future and eventually marrying Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Far more of her notoriety since 2010 has been fame focused, with little music propelling her career forward. The thing is, people are finally starting to see the truth; Ciara is not a replacement for Aaliyah. After Aalyiah's untimely passion at the height of her career, it seemed like Timberland and Missy Elliot were desperate for another collaborator of her caliber. Ciara came in to fill the void, but she never compared, people just sort of felt placated. You really get that sense on this anemic album. There is a lot of trying to sound hip and modern, but very little of it actually happening. You don't get any kind of personality or swag, just some toothless pop/R&B mix that is as comfortable as it is safe. "Thinking Bout You" sounds like a direct rip off of the SZA and Maroon 5 track "What Lovers Do" to the point that I had to go back and listen to the song to confirm my fears. The songs both even have this springy guitar line and a similar theme that just makes you completely scratch your head. With this much time off it was never going to be easy for Ciara to slide back into the game, but you expected at least a little bit of nostalgia to power this thing through, it just does not. "Trust Myself" which tries to be this sexy slow jam ends up being so plain and generic that it's almost impossible to care.
"Girl Gang" with Kelly Rowland feels like another whack attempt at a popular meme. So much of this album is centered around "Ciara does (blank)" that it totally whiffs on giving us some of her personality. "Dose" is the one track where we get some of that old school Ciara and Timberland wildness, but it also feels pretty borrowed from Beyoncé's iconic Homecoming performance. "Na Na" also tries to lift some Latin rhythms for it's beat, and it just sounds silly. I really didn't expect for this album to sound so much like a Mom trying to do pop, but that is exactly what it is. It sounds like the music someone who doesn't really care would make, it doesn't matter what it is as long as it's something. That kind of thing just doesn't fly anymore, and banking solely on name recognition this late in the game is problematic. There is just so little to care about on this album, so little to actually move you it is hardly worth it. Save for a couple of boppy moments Beauty Marks is a pretty bad record.
4.0 out of 10