Their return from darkness out of the way, Demi Lovato returns to the serious business of stardom on Demi, their fourth album and the first positioned as the work of a true adult. Maturity is a bit of a tricky business on Demi, as it finds them copping modern trends without quite shaking off the studio system that fostered them. The latter is problematic, resulting in half-baked exercises in pageantry -- such as the "Skyscraper" rewrite "Nightingale" -- and the occasional cultural dissonance, like when they tell a suitor "you try to take me home like you're DiMaggio," a name not heard in a pop song for almost 25 years. Unfortunately, a lot of these stumbles arrive early in the record, but the back half of Demi shifts into a place where the studio professionalism and blatant cash-ins click. They bring in Cher Lloyd, from the seventh season of the British X-Factor, to rap on the brightly brickwalled kiss-off "Really Don't Care," they skip through the wildly appealing "Something That We're Not" -- quite easily the purest and best piece of pop here -- and deliriously rip off Katy Perry's "Firework" on "Fire Starter," which is shameless in its appropriation of the prior hit's construction and progression, but not its attitude. This second half is strong enough to make some of the earlier, tentative moments seem a bit better -- this is particularly true of "Made in the USA," which cops Miley's "Party in the USA," but it's not quite so fetching an exploitation as "Fire Starter" -- but ultimately, this isn't an album of purpose, it's a collection of moments, and it has just enough good ones to solidify Demi Lovato's comeback.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine