Mariah Carey’s Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel arrives in stores Tuesday. Did the songbird’s 12th studio album hit a high note with critics? Find out below.
Entertainment Weekly: It’s puzzling to hear one of music’s most powerful voices continually corralled into a feathery R&B midrange; imperfections are nowhere to be found on Memoirs, but neither are many true revelations. B
USA Today: By the album’s end, this imperfect angel seems no closer to finding heaven—though her gloriously gospel-infused version of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” certainly comes close. 3 out of 4
Los Angeles Times: Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel will stand out in Carey’s catalog as an experiment that illuminates her place in the pantheon without either boosting it or damaging it. I wouldn’t be surprised if, a decade from now, Carey cites this effort as a personal favorite. It’s that kind of wholly decent effort: a self-exploration that settles on its unpretentious insights by not pushing too hard. 2.5 out of 4
The New York Times: “H.A.T.E.U.” has some of the ease of her recent successes, and “It’s a Wrap” swings with girl-group melody. But it’s the vintage notes here that resonate most intensely. She lets her voice go at the end of “Candy Bling,” a cold splash of water that reminds us what Ms. Carey can do when left unfettered.
Boston Herald: Sassy and occasionally ridiculous lyrics (love you like a freeze pop”) bring out a playful side that offsets the time Carey spends languishing in lost love territory. She’s at her best when dismissing, not missing, that no-longer-special someone, as on the track to download, “Up Out My Face.” B+
Chicago Sun-Times: Through it all, as usual, Carey over-sings at every opportunity, needlessly trilling up and down the scales as if we needed one more reminder of why she’s the favorite virtuoso of the “American Idol” crowd substituting skill for soul. Eminem isn’t right about much, but he’s spot on when it comes to dismissing this butterfly. 1.5 out of 4
Chicago Tribune: On her 12th studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (Island), Carey doesn’t resort to vocal histrionics or production gimmickry. Instead, she plays it low-key, and ends up with her best album since the ’90s heyday. 3 out of 4
Newsday: On Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, restraint has given way to inertia. Low-wattage and low-impact, it’s a humdrum descent into midtempo, hopelessly burdened with ballads.
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Obsessed,” “H.A.T.E.U.,” “Ribbon,” “Standing O”