Like many big-budget albums of the last years of the 2000s, Mariah Carey's Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel faced shifting release dates, all as the final product was tweaked in light of disappointing reactions to early singles, particularly the Eminem-baiting "Obsessed." Unlike many of those big-budget albums, including several made by Mariah herself, Memoirs isn't the product of a stable of producers and collaborators; it is almost entirely the work of The-Dream and Tricky Stewart, the team best known for their tracks for Rihanna. Certainly, there are echoes of "Umbrella" to be heard on Memoirs, just as there are elements of the gauzy "Touch My Body," The-Dream and Tricky Stewart's previous single for Mariah, although working with mainly one set of producers does give Memoirs a cohesion that can sometimes lapse into sameness, but not in an unpleasant fashion. Even if it doesn't smack of the confessional autobiography of the title, there's no denying that Memoirs is an album, not a collection of tracks, possessing its own flow and mood, which gives it a personality the slightly desperate E=MC2 lacked, even if it never manages to kick out a song that is all that distinctive on its own terms. Nevertheless, what it also lacks is the pandering, heavy-handed sexuality Mariah has relied upon too heavily this decade -- and in doing so, it feels age appropriate in a way she hasn't in a long time, despite a collection of silly, jumbled lyrics. All Memoirs needs to push it over the edge is a great pair of singles, and their absence does hurt the album a bit, but not enough to prevent it from being her most interesting album in a decade.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2