Dislikes: Supernatural Love
Overall: Contemporary R&B with a spin of rock & hip-hop and good lyrics. I wasn’t in love though.
“American Idol” vet Fantasia is a perfect example of how quantity doesn’t always reflect quality when it comes to record sales. She has yet to see a multi-platinum selling album, but in my opinion, she doesn’t have a single bad record in her discography. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she always gives a rousing performance. The new “Side Effects of You” has shining lyrical moments (Fantasia makes her writing debut and the on-the-rise brilliance of Emeli Sande is featured on the title track) and crisp, effects + instrumentation production that’s a foundational mesh of older and current R&B with hip-hop and splashes of reggae, adult contemporary and Bruno Mars-like rock/soul (ex. “Get it Right,” “So Much to Prove”) that gives Fantasia her most eclectic record. All the aforesaid into consideration, why am I not in serious love with this album and feel indifferent?
Maybe it was the 2013 R&B influence. Some R&B enthusiasts argue that the genre gradually became generic and uninspiring around the mid-2000’s and it hasn’t fully rebounded since. Fantasia dodged catching the fever as her first 2 albums were released at the cusp of change and 2010’s “Back to Me” had a classic-soul base. Although “Effects” has many musical ingredients, the taste of contemporary R&B is just too strong and is only accentuated by the hip-hop seasoning. Whether R&B should be married with hip-hop has been long-debated, but I generally like them separate. Hip-hop is so robust that it tends to over-power the sensuality of R&B/soul. For example, expletives and the “n-word” as slang are tools used to convey a contesting roughness in hip-hop, so when they’re used in what’s supposed to be a romantic song (ex. “End of Me,” “Lighthouse”), it’s misplaced and interrupts the flow.
Maybe it was some of the tracks sounded similar to previous album cuts. “Ain’t All Bad” had sprinkles of “Teach Me” and “Move on Me” (I loved the concept on “Bad” though) & “Change Your Mind” gave me “Bore Me (Yawn).” What saved “Change” was the fabulous nod to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Lastly, maybe it was the fact that despite being promoted as a rock/soul album, there really wasn’t that much rock involved, aside from 2 songs. I prefer the more vintage soul sound of “Back to Me,” but that’s not to say “Side Effects of You” has nothing to offer. If you don’t mind contemporary R&B, prepare to be impressed by the lyrical content and the edgy integration of other genres. If you don't care for it, prepare to be possibly unenthused.