Never let it be said that Mandy Moore, her label, and team of producers didn't work it. Once So Real failed to make headway, they retooled it as the "special edition" I Wanna Be with You, which wasn't a real hit, but it was a step in the right direction. Then, with her official second album, they finally got the formula right. Mandy Moore manages to pack more hooks, melody, beats, clever production flourishes, and fun into its 13 tracks than nearly all of its peers -- remarkably, it's a stronger album, through and through, than either of Britney's first two albums or Christina's record. That doesn't mean that it has singles as strong as those albums; even if the surging "In My Pocket," the faux-sitar spiked "You Remind Me," and hip-hop ballad "Saturate Me" are all fine tunes, meant to be played on the radio, they aren't as distinctive as "...Baby One More Time" or "Genie in a Bottle." Also, although Moore isn't a bad singer, she's not particularly charismatic, and the production team isn't as gaudily, enjoyably crass as Max Martin. So, why is Mandy Moore such a good record? Because of consistency. This may not hit tremendous heights, yet everybody involved is working so hard that they've managed to come up with a record that's consistently satisfying. It doesn't stretch the teen pop formula much, just enough to give the record character, and Moore delivers the songs sturdily, never taking the forefront, but blending into the lush, layered production, so the music just rolls forth as a whole. And that whole sounds great -- immaculately crafted, precisely polished, exactly what a teen pop album should be. Of course, it would have been greater if a couple of the songs were genuine knockouts, but usually this genre sacrifices consistency for dizzying peaks and it's refreshing to hear a teen pop record that plays like a record, instead of singles-n-filler.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine