Chris Brown, Heartbreak on a Full Moon | Album Review
Chris Brown has some moments on ‘Heartbreak on a Full Moon.’ The problem is, you have to sort through an exhaustive, overstuffed album to find them.
Chris Brown was already ‘crazy’ – arguably (see Chris Brown: The Pros and the Cons). Even so, he became crazier when he released a 45-track album, Heartbreak on a Full Moon. Say that to yourself – 45 tracks! Heartbreak on a Full Moon exceeds an ungodly two-and-a-half-hour duration. That’s bloated for even the most inspired artist, and calling Brown inspired as of late is a huge understatement. Why did RCA sign off on this?
Likely, the only motivation for releasing so much material is the power of streaming, something a Guardian article penned by Ben Beaumont-Thomas sheds light on. As Beaumont-Thomas touches on, finding gems on this massive effort is as elephantine as the album itself. This ‘review’ will not sort through all two-and-half-hours of Heartbreak on a Full Moon. That would be utterly absurd. It will, however offer some impressions, takeaways, pros, and cons. What can be noted about these bloated albums is ‘more is rarely better.’
Listening through portions of Heartbreak on a Full Moon, the listener gets the gist of the pros and the cons. In regards to pros, one of the first things that will stand out is the production. Consistently throughout the effort, the backdrops are sleek, slick, modern, and top-rate. That doesn’t mean that everything necessarily sounds distinct, but all in all, there is plenty of solid production work. Generally, this is the case with any Chris Brown album or urban contemporary, hip-hop efforts.
Another pro are the vocals, more often than not. When Chris Brown is tuned in and NOT being gimmicky, his distinctive set of pipes continues to be his best attribute. Forget the bad-boy appeal or turn-off and the lyrics themselves. Brown has a marvelous instrument and his tone is one-of-a kind. In addition to the production and voice, Heartbreak on a Moon has some worthwhile moments.
Generally, the singles give the listener some familiarity, which is a necessity on an album this big. Naturally, “Pills & Automobiles,” the 21st track, is the crème de la crème. Brown also does okay with the likes of “Privacy,” “Everybody Knows,” “Party,” and “Only 4 Me.” Personally, a pre-release single I was meh on, “High End,” provides some much-needed familiarity. That isn’t to say that the contextual gems are elite, but in a big album like this, finding something familiar helps.
The biggest problem with Heartbreak on a Full Moon is its exhaustive length. That length tends to amplify other issues. Rather than feeling like a double or triple album, Heartbreak on a Full Moon is one gigantic Chris Brown playlist. This is a ‘pick-and-choose effort,’ as opposed to a cohesive, well-rounded affair.
Another rub is just how static – how ‘stuck-in-a-box’ that Chris Brown has become artistically. Basically, throughout Heartbreak on a Full Moon, he offers more of the same. Sex, drugs, overconfidence, and a lack of likability. He continues to offer a persona that’s much easier to hate than to love. There’s no personal connections that can be made with this album – only empty, forgettable sex, shallow materialness, and everything small-minded as opposed to big-minded or ambitious.
Returning to the sex, there’s plenty of it. “Tempo” doesn’t refer to the speed of the music for example, but rather, the speed of the love-making. On “To My Bed,” the most interesting thing that occurs is that Brown and his girl can’t make it to the bed to… Ding* Ding* Ding* have sex. There’s also “Covered in You,” which is literal. Of course, on single “High End,” the 31st song, him, alongside Future and Young Thug, focus on luxury, which never yields much substance. But, that’s nothing that Brown hasn’t already been criticized for before this album.
In most cases, the songs simply run into each other. No matter how slick the production work is or how distinct Brown is vocally, there’s very little variation. The distinctiveness of Heartbreak on a Full Moon as a whole is nonexistent. It plays predictably. Before listening, who doesn’t expect “Juicy Booty” to be sexual and shallow to the nth degree? Throw in R. Kelly, who has some serious sexual allegations against him AGAIN, and it’s obvious and despicable. But again, Heartbreak on a Full Moon is predictable, predictably.
So, what does one make of Heartbreak on a Full Moon? There have definitely been better Halloween treats – definitely. If you’re a Chris Brown fan through thick and thin, then you’ll eat up this album. If you’re a more casual fan, perhaps you can sort through it a pick a couple of songs to spin. But all in all, this is too much and feels like nothing more than a marketing trick to impact the Billboard 200. Honestly, just the idea of it is a turn-off.
Gems: “Privacy,” “Everybody Knows,” “Party,” “Pills & Automobiles,” “Tough Love,” “High End” & “Only 4 Me”