For Robin Thicke, the runaway success of “Blurred Lines”—his No. 1 Billboard hit/song-of-the-summer winner with T.I. and Pharrell—is a long time coming. During the last decade, the rakish crooner has released five albums full of sleek hip-hop, playful electropop, and sexy-time R&B. Save for a few singles and 2006’s The Evolution Of Robin Thicke, however, his musical output has never fully lived up to its potential; Thicke’s libidinous swagger and easy confidence didn’t translate to widespread mainstream success.
That scenario should change with the release of the fun, upbeat Blurred Lines. In addition to the traditional balladry that’s always been Thicke’s forte, his sixth album explores cosmic club jams (the Timbaland-supercharged BPM buster “Take It Easy On Me”), vintage disco (“Ooo La La,” the horn-peppered “Get In My Way”) and lively, brassy funk (“Ain’t No Hat 4 That,” co-written with actor dad Alan Thicke). These tracks are in sharp contrast to (yet mesh well with) Blurred Lines’ more introspective fare. As is Thicke’s way, underneath this bravado is a man who finds monogamy and true love deeply romantic. “4 The Rest Of My Life” is an old-school R&B reminiscence about how wooing a girl eventually led to an enduring relationship, while “The Good Life”—a soulful waltz with lush orchestration and a gritty heart —stresses that a satisfying existence isn’t flashy cars and celebrity, but a “good life” with a beloved lady.
While these sincere tracks are pleasant enough, Blurred Lines’ playfulness is its real strength. A sample of the fluttery acoustic guitar from Seu Jorge’s “Tive Razão” lends tropical lightness to the falsetto-laden ’80s pop of “Go Stupid 4 U,” while Dr. Luke co-wrote and produced “Give It 2 U,” a (naturally) Prince/Timberlake hybrid featuring a raunchy interlude from Kendrick Lamar. “Ain’t No Hat 4 That,” meanwhile, deservedly earns an “SAT-pop” label solely for the line, “Some say her temperament is obstreperous.” Interestingly, in context with the rest of the record, “Blurred Lines” is actually far less impish than other songs; ultimately, its old-man lecherousness and boys’-club friskiness comes off as uncomfortable and demeaning, no matter how Thicke and Pharrell spin the song’s intent in interviews. But as a whole, Blurred Lines is an album full of summer jams that deserve to linger long after the temperature drops.