Monday, January 4, 2016

Wildfire | Rachel Platten

Upon first listen to her breakthrough single, "Fight Song," Rachel Platten is hard to identify. Her wishy-washy ode to her persistence in the industry despite a decade without mainstream success makes it seem as if she stands side-by-side with Christina Perri, Colbie Caillat, Sara Bareilles, Sheryl Crow, and Natasha Bedingfield in a musical line-up. However, once she is given 12 songs to showcase her craft, she somehow becomes even harder to identify.

With one song, Platten checked off nearly all of the requirements of an adult contemporary radio favorite; she could easily be pigeon-holed as another honey-voiced peach who makes vapid, innocent pick-me-up anthems that 30-something white moms fall in love with. And while that description isn't completely incorrect -- because her debut major label album, Wildfire, does include "Fight Song" and complementary, and equally corny, tracks "Stand by You" and "Superman" -- she tries to relate closer, both vocally and melodically, to teen-pop stars circa the mid-aughts.

The problem with being a folksy-pop singer-songwriter disguised as one of Top 40's next big things is, like making mountains out of molehills, Platten tries to make anthems out of clearly lackluster material. Her faceless vocals waver all over the spectrum, from a youthful bounce to a matured shout, and most of the album's power is expected to come from low-voltage, dime-a-dozen production. The only times she even comes close to that coveted anthemic status is on "Speechless," where her vocal delivery gets a bit more emotional and choruses are completed with sufficient swells, and "Astronauts," when her production takes a Owl City-esque turn in the song's choruses. Almost everything else here? Although it isn't awful as it plays out, it isn't commanding enough to convince me to ever actively search for it again.

I find it ironic that Platten's breakthrough song is soaked with self-pity over not being able to make a breakthrough to the mainstream, yet now that she has had her wish fulfilled, she has inadvertently proven why she didn't surface for so long. The material she offers on Wildfire is like cotton candy: enjoyable in the moment, but neither filling nor long-lasting. And unfortunately for Platten, who seems to be a relatively likable person, if easily-pleased adult contemporary audiences don't pick up on more singles from this thing soon (because we know nobody else will), her career is sure to follow the album's lackluster lead and flicker out quicker than it ignited.

Wildfire is out now under Columbia Records. An exclusive deluxe edition can be found at Target department stores.

No comments

Post a Comment

© Aural Fixation