I don’t even know where to start with this review. I basically have to review it since it’s going to be one of the biggest albums of the year in terms of industry push (I can already see the glowing reviews incoming and would bet my money on multiple Grammy noms). But “Back of My Mind”, and a lot of H.E.R.’s music, is just so lacking of anything interesting that I want to talk about anything but the music, and I feel like that’s the case for most people who write about her - even the people who write about her positively.
I REALLY want to write about H.E.R.’s industry push, why the industry is backing her so hard, and why it seems like so many people are calling bullshit. She’s gotten tons of Grammy noms over the last three years without even putting out a debut, she gets glowing reviews from mainstream publications - I just read a headline claiming she’s the next Marvin Gaye or Prince. Yet when I listen to “Back of My Mind”, I don’t hear an album that’s compelling, emotionally touching, a game changer, unique, or even something that’s just really well crafted or fine tuned. These are really just standard R&B tunes that really aren’t very well written, are boringly produced, and some times have a really lacking mix. It’s really like an album of C-tier worthy basic R&B tracks, and it makes it all the more jarring when publications are trying to say that there’s something more than that but can’t really come up with a reason why.
But even then, maybe the lackluster music could be saved if H.E.R. gave some emotional performances or had an interesting to her writing, but that’s not the case. H.E.R. is a solid singer, no doubt, but I feel very little soul coming through on her vocal performances, singing basically by the numbers without any emotion. As far as her writing goes, I don’t think she has a unique way of approaching the themes of self love that are the focus of “Back of My Mind” at all. These bland, boring tracks are made even worse by the album’s incredible king runtime, clocking in at twenty one tracks an an almost hour and a half runtime. That’s pushing it even for albums that are really well constructed, but for an album that’s so lackluster as this basically has no chance of surviving at that runtime.
It’s easily apparent why so many people are cynically digging at H.E.R.’s industry push when the content of her music is boringly inoffensive, which is also probably why she’s getting the huge forced endorsement. I wouldn’t mind how the hell she made it to this point however if there was something unique or special about her music, and, frankly, this is isn’t the case for “Back of My Mind”.
Also - Chris Brown? Seriously?