Not Necessarily ‘Hard II Love‘… just difficult to push replay”
Our Review of Usher’s Latest
In some ways, Hard II Love feels like a frantic attempt to recreate the memorable qualities of 2004’s Confessions. Although Hard II Love does not even scratch the surface of Confessions, there are several songs that highlight Usher’s legacy in both pop and R&B, and his evolution as a singer.
Evidence of this is first displayed on “Missin U,” which showcases the singer’s superb ability to allow his tenor vocals to sink into a groove. It gravitates between an Off The Wall Michael Jackson mimicking in the hook to a yearning, soulful performance that many R&B artists – particularly males, lack in today’s formulaic climate. “No Limit,” is the first of many lackluster efforts on Hard II Love, that are a play to attract the Bryson Tiller and Jeremih crowds, instead of remaining true to form in lyrical expression and vocal delivery, which is what fans have come to expect.
Even with the lethargy that is front and center, there are times throughout the Hard II Love experience, where Usher doesn’t rely heavily on auto-tune, or overdone flurries of digitization. Both “Bump” and “FWM,” communicate that the singer understands what propelled him to R&B stardom back in 1994. The former is a quiet-storm number that injects echoes of “I Wanna Rock” by Luke in its chorus, while the latter, features production by Pharrell, and follows in the footsteps of hits like “Love in This Club,” “U Don’t Have To Call,” and “OMG” with its infectious synths. Another surprising standout among the fourteen cuts is “Rivals,” where Usher joins forces with Future.
Notably absent on the album are 2014’s trio of releases, “Good Kisser,” “I Don’t Mind,” and “She Came to Give It to You,” which might have elevated the many missteps. Usher proclaims that he fucked up on “Need U,” the opener on this, his eighth studio album. Hard II Love isn’t necessarily hard to love, it’s just difficult to push replay, knowing that he is capable of crafting a better musical collage than what this project ended up being.