Charlie Puth, ‘How Long’ | Track Review
Artistically, Charlie Puth continues his maturation with the second single off his highly-anticipated, 2018 sophomore album ‘Voicenotes,’ “How Long.”
The success that Charlie Puth has experienced is commendable. He’s been nominated for Grammys, scored Billboard Hot 100 hits, and earned a platinum album with Nine Track Mind. At just 25 years old, the perfect-pitched, pop musician is off to a great start. Personally, I owe Puth such accolades, being critical of his work as of yet. Nine Track Mind just felt too safe, schmaltzy, and sold Puth’s musicianship short – he’s a talented dude. I also should concede that “Attention,” the first single from his sophomore album, Voicenotes, was much better than the credit originally awarded. All this leads to his long-awaited second single from album no. 2, “How Long.”
Clearly, Puth knew from the get-go that on Voicenotes, he needed to step-up his game to expand his base. On “How Long,” like “Attention,” he does that. The production continues expand beyond the safety that too often sanitized Nine Track Mind. It’s funky, soulful, and thrives off its groove. This complements the lightness and airy nature of Puth’s voice exceptionally well. His falsetto was money on Nine Track Mind, but sounds nastier and more authentic here. Even the songwriting is a step up – there are more risks beyond the predictable.
Cons? Personally, as shocking as it may be given previous skepticism, there’s nothing major. Maybe his voice won’t appeal to everyone, but that can be said of even the best of the best. Even though the songwriting isn’t nearly as schmaltzy as his past work, it’s also not like Puth is trying to be transcendent or deliver a groundbreaking, meaningful message. Maybe that’s the biggest rub. But is it really a rub? It’s pop music after all.
All in all, Charlie Puth is arriving. After achieving success with “Attention,” undoubtedly, he’ll achieve more with “How Long.” Sure, it’s light on substance, but the artistic progression, along with the infectiousness, is what makes this stand out. Hopefully, Puth has complete expunged his “One Call Away” days.