Trey Songz – Passion, Pain & Pleasure | Album Review

Crooning Lothario Trey Songz has spent the last year on the ascent. A short year before Passion, Pain & Pleasure, Songz released Ready, the album that established him as a rising R&B star. And within the two records, Songz has been working relentlessly to raise his visibility; staying in constant rotation on urban radio, supporting on Jay-Z’s national US tour and starring in his own reality TV series being just some of the things he’s done in a bid to secure the top spot in today’s R&B market.

Passion, Pain and Pleasure came at exactly the right time to capitalise on Songz’s current buzz in the urban scene and in its first week of sales it almost doubled Ready’s first week sales. So how does the album sound?

To me Passion, Pain & Pleasure feels like it’s less about the music; it seems to serve as a product to propel Trey Songz’s burgeoning position in the scene. Songz has previously revealed that he believes audiences respond to generic music and it seems he has stuck to his proven formula of predictable, hyper-sexed R&B to secure success on Passion, Pain & Pleasure. Because of this, whilst comparatively the most consistent record of his career thus far, it is also the least interesting. It lacks the hunger of I Just Gotta Make It, the edginess of Trey Day and the confidence of Ready.

It is possible to listen to Passion, Pain & Pleasure from start to finish, however, you may struggle to identify many stand out tracks. In short, it feels a bit like a filler album. The assumed overarching theme of Passion, Pain & Pleasure isn’t really felt throughout the record; largely due to the lyrical content, which often exhibits as much depth as a pavement puddle. (‘Twinkle twinkle little star’… from “Alone” is my favourite… uhm… quotable from the album.)

The only two features on the album come from the Young Money camp, with Nicki Minaj stealing the show on “Bottoms Up” and Songz’ long time collaborator Drake assisting on “Unusual” – a track which is, ironically, far from unusual from what we’re used to hearing from either star. The album highlights are “Made To Be Together” and “Please Return My Call”, both reminiscent of this generation’s golden age of R&B – the ’90s (and unfortunately for Songz, do very little to lessen R. Kelly comparisons).

His most successful album to date, Passion, Pain & Pleasure does exhibit growth in Songz’s vocal ability but it does little to build on his potential. It is an interesting time for Mr Songz, he’s in a position where mainstream success is just a step away, however, I predict that if he does cross over it will be with a record that deviates from generic, sex-driven R&B, and therefore it probably won’t happen with Passion, Pain & Pleasure.

–Tahirah Edwards Byfield

Passion, Pain & Pleasure is out now via Songbook/Atlantic.

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