Listening Party: Charlie Puth’s latest album 'CHARLIE' will get you in your feels | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Four years since his last album, Charlie Puth is back with what he calls his most personal project yet

The ‘See you again’ singer experienced what could be called ‘losing your way’ for a couple of years. In an exclusive interview with GQ, he talked about how at some point in his career, he began “checking boxes for the music industry” in an effort to identify the next formula for the next big hit. While initially in denial of the diagnosis, he realized that he needed to make the change after being told by Elton John and a couple of caring fans via DM that it was evident that perhaps there were too many factors influencing and changing his sound. He was even asked once if he was “hanging with the right crowd.”

Having put out multiple chart-topping releases, pressure mounted to replicate previously met success, something he admits negatively affected his vision as an artist. In a tweet put out last year, he shared that “At this point of my career, I owe it to myself and you importantly, to not just give you ONE SINGLE, but the whole vision. I’m making the best album I’ve ever made and I don’t want to rush it.” 

Puth has recently opened up about his experiences under Ellen Degeneres’ label, eleveneleven. After being discovered on Youtube for his cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You” alongside Emily Luther, he was signed by the Emmy-winning host. The deal amounted to nothing however with the label disappearing in 2012, and without him having released anything. Citing a lack of communication he says “All the people that were in that room, they just disappeared. I didn’t hear from anybody.” Long behind the Grammy-caliber artist and far from the kid who got ghosted by his record label, he now looks forward to bigger things with this latest album release.

CHARLIE is the result of his return to form.

The breakup album recounts the artist’s worst years of his life, you can’t get any more personal than that. But despite subject matter that would bring Puth back to his lowest points, he makes an interesting choice in making CHARLIE an “upbeat, synthy, ‘80s pop album.” He juxtaposes happy, high-energy instrumentals, with sentimental lyrics and inspired vocal performances, rather than going for the typical ballad.

The theme of the project: heartfelt vocals with deeply intimate lyrics that are accompanied by energetic synths and hard-hitting beats. It reminds me of k-pop group iKON’s latest title track ‘But You’ which, like Puth, dealt with regret and longing all while having an electronic instrumental driving the song forward. CHARLIE paints an interesting picture, of those lonely less-than sober night outs when we’re trying to drown ourselves in cocktails, music, and the company of strangers, all in a fruitless effort to refrain from thinking about those we immensely care about, but can’t be with anymore. You can be having the time of your life, only to be hit by the realization that the noise is not enough, the perfect happy-sad. 

As for the music itself, the album has largely maintained its focus on allowing the ‘We don’t talk anymore’ singer to freely let out his grievances and explore his innermost feelings and thoughts that are the result of his reflections in recent years. Instrumentals in this project were simplified and have taken a step back to serve as the backbone to some of Puth’s best vocal deliveries in his career where we can clearly see him digging deep and giving in to raw emotion. One song that stands out in this regard is track 8 of the album and its only slow song When You’re Sad I’m Sad where he delivers a gut-punching bridge reminiscent of his very own in See You Again.

Puth has seemed to have found his new formula, one that allows him to freely be the musical geek that he is.

While relatively keeping each track rather straightforward, the singer-songwriter and producer showcased his musical chops by presenting his newest songs as based on a particular concept or theme that would shape how the entire thing sounds and flows. For example in track 2 Charlie Be Quiet!, he seems to be torn and in a monologue with himself saying “Charlie be quiet, don’t make a sound, you’ve got to lower the noise a little bit now, if she knows you’re in love, she’s gonna run away” in an almost whisper-like manner. However, as the “feelings get stronger” the chorus suddenly has him repeating that verse as if he were shouting it, rejecting the other side of his monologue and letting his emotions take control. This thematic expression that envelops and guides his entire tracks is something that is evident in the other songs in the album such as That’s Hilarious, Light Switch, and Left and Right. 

However, despite these techniques being rather attractive to his audience, especially with his TikTok videos that take viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of his musical process, these cannot be dismissed as just cute gimmicks. While cheesy and overused at certain points, it is an incredible attempt on his part to step out of the box and show how music can be presented and appreciated in ways outside the usual norm. For Puth, a simplified approach did not mean boring, instead, it opened him up to inserting in various ways tidbits of unique sounds that gave his tracks a brand new life of their own, beyond what the usual chord progression can do. 

CHARLIE is a 33-minute probe into the artist’s heartbreak and his attempts at processing and getting over it. Don’t get fooled by each song’s energetic and light-hearted vibe, because behind that facade are messages of spite, anxiety, regret, desire, and finally relief, which are reflections of Puth’s deepest and truest emotions of a time that was truly difficult for him. 

Top 5 picks from CHARLIE

  • There’s A First Time For Everything
  • Tears On My Piano
  • Marks On My Neck
  • When You’re Sad I’m Sad
  • Charlie Be Quiet!



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