PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Avant: Face the Music

Avant seeks to pay homage to R&B artists preceding him on his seventh album Face the Music.


Avant

Face the Music

Label: MO-B
US Release Date: 2013-02-05
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

Avant follows up 2010’s The Letter with his seventh album, 2013’s Face the Music, via MO-B. Face the Music is Avant’s first album for an independent label. Previously, he’d been signed to MCA, Capitol, and Verve Forecast. Despite moving from major to indie, Avant concedes little swagger on Face the Music, continuing to epitomize and capitalize on comparisons to R. Kelly. Avant’s tenor shines like a beacon throughout the 12-song set (14 in iTunes edition), never ceding emotion as he seeks to pay homage to Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Babyface amongst others. The material, written/co-written by Avant, and produced aside Dre Hen and Kajun, has its moments, though sometimes the songs are too similar and predictable.

"Toast to Love" opens considerately, paying ode to love against a lush, adult contemporary R&B backdrop. "Never thought I would be the one to have love come my way / now that it’s here / I will treat it like sunshine in a day," Avant thoughtful sings on the refrain. He trades chivalry for lasciviousness on the sleek "80 in a 30", aided by sexy contributions from singer J’Lyn "“Lingerie, sexy thinkin’ bout what you gon’ do to me") and rapper/producer Kajun, who quickly drops a Lamborghini Murciélago reference. Risqué, "80 in a 30" is arguably one of Avant’s most notable songs in years and undeniably clever metaphorically.

Avant returns to his gentlemanlike swagger on his reunion with Keke Wyatt on duet "You & I". Smooth and sexy, the chemistry on the set’s lead single is undeniable. The cut closes capably with vocal interplay between the two as it fades out. After "You & I" momentum slows with "More" and "Excited", both cuts focused on the bedroom that are good but not great. "Don’t Know How" is solid as well, without being an ultimately allurement. Here, Avant’s clear lead vocals yearn of how he wishes "that I could love you / but I don’t know how." An incredibly slow tempo makes the cut feel more draggy than introspective.

"Nobody’s Business", albeit it somewhat melodramatic, redirects a temporarily sputtering Face the Music, changing gears to updated Motown production work. Avant sounds reinvigorated, showing more personality the likes of earlier triumphs with cutting edge lines like "But as long as we’re together, I don’t give a…" Things cool once more on "Best Friend", a cut slated in modern R&B/alt-hip hop sensibility and "Like You", which has it’s moments but ultimately lacks profundity.

As always, stronger cuts to atone as standout "When It’s Over" goes deeper. A more commanding Avant takes the reigns here, asking his lover "Will you still care / when it’s over, when the party’s over?" Avant ultimately alludes to being genuine and unfazed by fame and money. "NO" is less satisfying, but puts Avant in a pop setting that is a contrast to his past endeavors. "Gratitude", the closer on many editions, finds Avant thanking his significant other in sound pop-soul fare. "Your Face" and "Human" close the iTunes edition, both sporting some worthwhile pros.

Overall, Face the Music is a solid R&B album, not an exceptional one. Avant does more than enough to secure another good album, but not quite enough to propel it to being a great one in his discography or in the music world. "80 in a 30" and "You & I" are superior juggernauts that few other cuts are able to match. Avant doesn’t, however, miss horribly on any of the set, and sings exceptionally throughout, both redeeming attributes.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.