When an album is 32 songs and two hours long, there are a slew of preconceived expectations that emerge and they vary by listener. Chris Brown’s latest album, Indigo, is a lesson in nauseating excess. Nevertheless, there are more than few gems buried in this monster of an album.
Indigo was introduced by a number of singles, but only one them was irrefutably a great record. Chris released “Undecided”; “Back to Love”; and the Nicki Minaj/G-Eazy-featuring “Wobble Up” to varying degrees of success. “Undecided” peaked at #35 and as of this wriitng, both “Wobble Up” and “Back to Love” failed to chart on the Hot 100.
Part of the reason these songs were commercially unsuccessful is that they offered nothing new. Indigo is Chris Brown’s ninth studio album, and for the most part, there is nothing innovative about the project. The majority of the songs are about drugs, alcohol, sex, money, and partying, with a ballad or two thrown in for good measure. The songs are all on the familiar spectrum of R&B, electropop, and hip-hop. No artist is required to change up their sound, but it does get redundant after years of similar material. Truthfully, half of these songs could have been on virtually any Chris Brown album from the latter half of this decade.
Another issue that Indigo faces is a severe overcrowding of the tracklist. Indigo is Chris Brown’s second consecutive double album following 2017’s Heartbreak on a Full Moon. The sheer heft of 32 full songs is already difficult to handle. When so many of the songs are sonically similar and offer no new insight into Chris Brown the artist or the person, an album of this length feels unnecessary. Many of the songs are bland filler that would’ve been better off remaining in the studio.
There are, however, some truly excellent records. In fact, Indigo could have very well been a much stronger 12-15 track album. On this album, collaborators (both old and new) help extract some new spark from Chris. On “Come Together,” he and H.E.R. create stunning harmonies and on the smash hit, “No Guidance,” Chris and Drake’s chemistry reaches a fever pitch. “No Guidance” is smooth and relaxed, but it still pulsates with a certain intense desire that makes the track so addictive. Justin Bieber gifts Chris a gorgeous vocal performance on the tender “Don’t Check On Me” and Tank revels in the glory of the early 2000s with the aptly titled “Early 2K.” Each of these collaborators brings something new and fresh to the table that the umpteenth Lil Wayne or Tyga collaboration cannot. As great as Tyga and Wayne’s recent albums were, their collaborations with Chris on Indigo (“Need a Stack” and “All I Want,” respectively) were tepid and tiresome. Of the solo tracks, there are some interesting moments like the electropop/R&B hybrid “Red”; the immaculately produced “Juice” and the introspective “Dear God.”
In addition to the repetitive lyricism and mildly interesting composition, the vocal production on Indigo is incredibly frustrating. Chris Brown has always had a great voice, but on this album it is drenched in all sorts of reverb and Auto-Tune to the point where it’s annoying to listen to. A two hour-long record of highly processed vocals and forgettable songs is a disappointment, but Indigo has a few strong songs to include on your daily playlist.