Nine Track Mind (Deluxe)

Nine Track Mind (Deluxe)

Charlie Puth was already on top of the world when he dropped his major-label debut in 2016. The New Jersey-born talent was the co-writer, co-producer, and silky-voiced guest star of Wiz Khalifa’s touching No. 1 elegy “See You Again,” which remains one of the most-streamed tracks of all time. Puth was also prancing up the charts alongside bubbly pop phenom Meghan Trainor with the frisky doo-wop bop “Marvin Gaye.” Come the turn of 2016, the biggest question surrounding Puth was how powerful a presence could this soul-pop crooner be all on his own. Nine Track Mind lays out a strong case. Puth co-wrote every song and produced nearly half of the album solo. His background in jazz piano, classical music, and music engineering reveals itself in the silvery filigree and crisp arrangements. And he can write a hook that digs deep. One can hear it all in the gospel-leaning opener, “One Call Away,” a cut so tender it feels like a warm, comforting hug. This feeling carries throughout the album as the balladeer exposes his hopeless-romantic side. He yearns on the swaying “Losing My Mind,” laments on the trembling “Dangerously,” and gushes on the radiant “Then There’s You.” Love, for Puth, is a constant push and pull, and it’s his voice that conveys this give and take more than anything. His smooth, supple tenor effortlessly slips into a crystal-clear falsetto, and he uses that power to chilling effect, especially when he’s channeling old-school romance on retro-soul standout “Suffer.” But it’s hard to ignore the other big collaboration here—“We Don’t Talk Anymore,” the sultry tropical-pop hit with Selena Gomez that somehow makes the ache of a breakup feel so good. Puth wears this bittersweet dichotomy well, and he would employ it on a much more regular basis in the funkier grooves of his future. While the singer would later admit that Nine Track Mind was rushed (to ride the wave of smash “See You Again”), it’s still an impeccably polished, undeniably catchy pop collection. This Deluxe edition features three bonus cuts, including a deliciously hypnotic dance remix of Puth’s 2015 song with Lil Wayne, “Nothing but Trouble (Instagram Models).”

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