Robin Thicke

Love After War

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Robin Thicke's Vegas streak goes back as far as his debut single, “When I Get You Alone.” Based on Walter Murphy's 1976 disco hit “A Fifth of Beethoven,” it had the backbone of a flashy and theatrical production, but at that point, Thicke was more of a (likable) snotty brat than a slick showman. Eight years later, after other large-scale songs like “Everything I Can’t Have,” “Magic,” and “Million Dolla Baby,” Thicke has settled into a suave, and even more swashbuckling, sound. Throughout the first quarter of Love After War, Thicke might as well be gunning for a Vegas residency. In the bombastic intro “An Angel on Each Arm,” one can picture Thicke strutting onto a decked-out stage with, well, female dancers beside him, and the song has a grinding riff that could be used as a repeated motif throughout the rest of the performance. On the overloaded “I’m an Animal,” Thicke goes hammier: “I’m smokin’ TNT, I’m drinkin’ dyn-o-mite -- can you still love me?!” Then, on “Never Give Up,” Thicke nearly drowns in a tidal wave of sound that comes from a sampled recording of Mexican composer José Pablo Moncayo's symphonic “Huapango.” After the all-together-now anthem “The New Generation,” Love After War scales back to slow, soft material with a couple exceptions. “Full Time Believer” is a happy-go-lucky theme for an admired woman, while “The Lil’ Things” and “What Would I Be?” are reflective/thankful songs that would be ideal for the tail end of Thicke’s Sin City New Year’s Eve blowout. Otherwise, the second half is dominated by ballads made for seduction (with more than a little preening). They don’t offer much in the way of development from Thicke’s recent past -- shut-eyed falsetto cooing, classy Brazilian touches, and 1976 Marvin Gaye moves in steady supply -- but they should get the job done.

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