Reviews

Trey Songz: Passion, Pain, and Pleasure

Passion, Pain, and Pleasure, continues in the same vein as its predecessor, offering a mix of club anthems and sexually-charged slow jams, but in the form of a concept album. Trey Songz has also taken a few creative risks as well, incorporating new genres such as rock and dance to create an overall solid album.

Trey Songz album coverLove In Three Acts

What a difference an album makes. Before that star-making Ready, Trey Songz was a capable vocalist/songwriter who couldn’t quite cross over to R&B superstardom. But an image makeover—complete with a beefed-up physique and a new haircut— lascivious hits like “I Invented Sex,” the club banger “Say Ahh” and looking-for-love tracks like “I Need A Girl,” have transformed Songz from braided, baby-faced crooner to a lean, mean superstar sex symbol. Passion, Pain, and Pleasure, filled with tales of love, lust, and longing, don´t stray too far from Ready´s subject matter but instead builds on it.

A concept album of sorts, the collection is divided into three into three sections. Slow jams “Love Faces” and “Massage” pick up where “Neighbors Know My Name” and “I Invented Sex” left off, with Songz promising a night filled with lustful lovemaking, while club anthems “Alone” and first single “Bottoms Up,” featuring Nicki Minaj and her trademark schizophrenic flow, chronicle nights of bottle popping and panty dropping.

The “Pain”

All of this bedroom activity does have consequences, however, as the album´s “Pain” section explores. “Can´t Be Friends” finds Songz contemplating how sex destroyed what might have been a good friendship, singing “If I knew it´d end like this/I never would´ve kiss ya/ ´Cause I fell in love with ya.´”

The old-school throwback “Please Return My Call,” finds the usually cocky lover apologizing for neglecting his woman and begging for forgiveness. “Alcohol has been/My best friend/ And I admit some tears/Have passed my chin,” he sings in “Made To Be Together,” where the singer pines for a lover to come back and end his lonely, cold nights.

The “Pleasure” And The “Passion”

The “Pleasure” section puts Songz back in raunchy, lady killer mode, telling the object of his affection in “Red Lipstick” that “I want your body/In my arms right now,” over a backdrop of smooth background vocals trance-like synthesizers. “Unusual,” featuring Drake, details the joys of sex–on the beach, at the movies, at a restaurant or in a bathroom, while “Doorbell,” finds the singer wanting to go downtown.

While the “Passion” section doesn’t hold up the album’s concept as well –“Unfortunate,” a kiss-off to an ex who doubted Songz’s love, sounds like it should have been placed in the “Pain” section for instance–it contains some of its most exciting production. “Blind,” which talks about how passionate love can make a man(what else?) go blind, wouldn’t sound out of place on an indie rock album, while “You Just Need Me” shows Songz incorporating dance pop into his sound.

The aforementioned “Unfortunate,” with its eerie, dark samples, echoing voices and ambient sounds, and the minimalist sounds of “Can’t Be Friends” would fit right in on 808’s And Heartbreak, but the juxtaposition of Songz’s warm vocals with the tracks’ coldness keep them from sounding like simple rip-offs.

With Passion, Pain, and Pleasure, Trey Songz builds on his sultry, lover-man persona while incorporating new sounds and genres into his music. “I done come a long way/From white tees and Forces,” he sings in “Alone.” Fans should take a lot of pleasure in that.