Lemar – The Hits

Release Date 08/03/2010 (Epic)

By Elinor O’Neill

Along with loss and love, unrequited love has long been one of the great themes of literature and music.  Unrequited love lacks any of the beauty or purity of real love. It is dark, obsessive and can destroy those who dwell in it.  In music, however, many songs about this love are often poignantly beautiful in their raw honesty and expression.  Ignoring the dreadful drones of James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful, many of Aretha Franklin’s best ballads were about unrequited love, and even Wheatus had a hit with Teenage Dirt Bag, a tearjerker of a tune which tells the tale of a geek in love with a girl who will never know his name.

Lemar’s new album “The Hits” is jam packed full of ballads about this subject. And although listening to one or two tracks is a pain free possibility, hearing him moan on for fifteen tracks about rejection and heartbreak is akin to the pain of watching as the tabloids pull girl after girl from the kiss and tell closet of Ashley Cole’s past.  It might appear to be entertaining at first but ultimately it makes for a rather dull, depressing read, and by the time the 500th girl is named we have all switched over on to something less sad.

LemarIn fairness to Lemar he is a rather good singer with a great range, and there are some tracks on the album which are bearable. “It’s Not That Easy” stands out with its boppy beginning. But unfortunately it becomes grating when, towards the end, annoyingly angelic backing vocals are thrown thoughtlessly into the mix.  “You Don’t Love Me” has been combined with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Vanilla Fudge to create a pretty funky little dance tune, which gets one’s brain buzzing with fantasies about a dance off between Lemar and Run DMC on an 80s disco dance floor.

There are a host of classic Lemar tunes for hardcore fans to get their groove on to, but most will find 50/50 and Dance do not  carry well into 2010 seeming somewhat dated. There is a pretty impressive duet with JLS on “What About Love” where Lemar’s voice is undoubtedly the best of the five thanks to its simplicity and strength.  Throughout the album, though, this voice is compromised as tune after tune is tainted by show off singing and excessive overdubbing as well as the dreadful subject matter.

As the Mamas and the Papas sang in “Glad To Be Unhappy” unrequited love can be a bore, and in choosing to centre nearly every track upon this subject Lemar ensures the record is a painful production which leaves one depressed and bored in equal measure.  Even my mother usually a tolerant woman begs me to, “Turn that awful noise off.”

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