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Ya’ll remember Mya right? That girl in the late 90’s who came out with the hit song ‘Case of the Ex?’ In recent years she has been struggling to make a comeback in the music scene, and most of her efforts has gone unnoticed, sometimes unjustifiably so. She was robbed of the Dancing with the Stars crown, and she has been reduced to only releasing mixtapes and albums in Japan. Mya’s latest effort K.I.S.S (Keep it Sexy & Simple) might not ever see the light of day in the U.S, which is quite a shame. This is easily her strongest effort since her 2003 LP Moodring. The album combines elements of Contemporary and Retro R&B, with splashes of Retro Pop, J-Pop, and Pop-Rock. With all of the ingredients put into place, Mya has served up an offering that is very delectable, with some moments actually being enough to crack the Top 40, (well if it was promoted.)
K.I.S.S (Keep it Sexy & Simple) 4/5 – The album starts of strong with this female anthem. The thumping bass with accompanying simple keyboard melodies come from the same blueprint as Keri Hilson’s ‘Pretty Girl Rock’. In this songs case however, it is executed better, and the lyrics come off less cocky and more confident, as she is not mainly talking about herself. When she does however she makes sure you get the point with lines like “Do you see a sign on my forehead saying I was born yesterday/ forget the babyface/ got thirteen in the no way I ain’t havin’ it.”
Rear View Mirror ft. Sean Paul 3/5 – This Rock/Pop track features a heavy guitar melody and powerful bass and synths to propel the song out the speakers. The overall result does sound Rihanna circa Good Girl Gone Bad but in a good way, further emphasized by the mini dancehall dance break when Sean Paul steps in. The song has Mya confidently driving away from a situation she no longer wants to be in. The sitch in question is vague, which makes the track relatable, as the situation could be anything. The catchy course will pull you in, and have you singing along confidently.
Fabulous Life 5/5 – Easily one of the best songs of the album, the track brings you to a simpler time where synths keyboard beats with other instruments littered the radio in the 80’s. Everyone had tracks like these, even Whitney Houston, which is what the song actually reminds me of for some reason. The song has everything I need and more in a dance record, a strong course and verses, dynamics and levels, and decent to good vocal delivery and lyrics. The song literally knows it is the business when Mya is justifiably telling you “You know you wanna get out yo seat, you know you just can’t resist the beat.” You will be having the track on repeat. It’s that damn good.
Mess up my Hair 3.5/5 – This track also has elements of Good Girl Gone Bad, with its strong bass elements and synths with a pinch of dancehall. She is pretty straightforward with her lyrics this go around. I loved the Aaliyah reference when she sang “We ain’t got to take it slow, I want you to rock that boat all night night night,” ash she was kind of like the long lost cousin to Monica, Brandy and Aaliyah in the 90’s.
Fugitive of Love 4/5 – The song opens with a thumping heart beat sounding bass with a guitar intro lead into the first verse. It clearly signifies that she is about to open up a can of worms about her feelings. This song has the strongest Contemporary R&B elements, and it actually reminds me of Ciara circa The Evolution. A lot of people questioned Mya’s vocal abilities early in her career, and although she is not the best singer in the game, this song indicates that she is an underrated vocalist. Some of her riffs and runs were actually very well done, some even sounding like Brandy. The song is about her running away from love whenever it catched up with her, and she is telling her man to “Lock me up in chains and shackles, and my heart in iron bars.” Her vocal delivery is actually quite strong, especially in the bridge. This one is definitely one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Love me Some You ft. Marques Houston 2.5/5 – This song actually would have gotten a stronger score, but there is one glaring element that keeps it from getting a 3… Marques Houston. His vocals sound so light, empty, and literally phoned in. The track would have benefitted without him. Mya’s vocals are strong enough to handle the track on her own. What’s so sad is that the song sounds like it is tailored made for Marques, but the track makes his vocals sound like they weren’t even mixed right into the track, and Mya’s vocals completely overpower him.
Mr. Incredible 3.5/5 – This is another good Contemporary R&B track from Mya. Her vocal delivery is very light and tender, riding the beat effortlessly. The track also reminds me of something of Ciara’s backlog but in a good way. Her feelings for whoever she loves are clearly evident in this track, as she declares he is “the truth, no lie.” The simple piano melody is done so well it actually sounds like a melodic harp playing along with the bassline. The song is very sensual, and is delivered perfectly.
Problem + Solution 3.5/5 – The piano melody and strong bass open up this mid tempo ballad. The song has Mya going back and forth about how her lover can be so pleasing for her, but cause her so many problems and “drains the life from her.” She realizes that she is like a “drug to a fiend, and without him she is incomplete.” The lyrics in this song are strong and honest, and the vocal delivery is really good. Some of her vocals remind me of Brandy again, especially the adlibs in the second course. By the end of the song she is singing at the very top of her lungs, and the effort comes of very well done.
Runnin’ Back ft. Iyaz 4/5 – This song actually sounds like it belongs on the Top 40, along with Jason Derulo. Her vocal delivery rides on the piano laden, bass and synth heavy beat, (I love the way she says trippin in the first verse “Trippan” LOL). The song is very upbeat and cute, and benefits greatly from the melody of the lyrics and the composition. If this had belonged to a Top 40 artist, this song would have done wonders. My only problem is with the chorus. This mastered album version has it sounding improperly mixed in. That might be just me, because I was so used to the track before the album came out, but even that is not enough to deter me from liking this song. Even the feature from Iyaz doesn’t hurt, and actually adds something to track.
Before you say Goodbye 4/5 – This synth and bass heavy mid-tempo, (I notice I am saying this a lot), actually reminds me a lot of Mariah Carey circa TEOM. The assist from the synth harp section in the track is actually somewhat calming, and Mya’s vocal delivery is on point. She gives the right amount of singing, enough to where her voice is not drowned out by the beat, but not to the point she is oversinging.
Sorry 3.5/5 – Let’s go back to the 90’s right quick to visit this number. The track’s melody sounds straight up out of an SWV album and the retro sound gives a real sense of nostalgia. Again with this track, she doesn’t oversing the track, putting her adlibs and runs in the correct places, making them stand out more. Although the song’s lyrics sounds like they sound to Ciara’s Evolution, Mya does enough to make them her own.
Love Comes Love Goes 4/5 –This song proves that Mya is an underrated vocalist. The intro to the track starts off with a melodic piano lead, while Mya delivers a really distinguished opening vocal. The lyrics match the song perfectly, and Mya’s ability to emote on the track actually surprised me. Her vocals start off soft and restrained, but as the song grows stronger, so does her voice. She does a really good job here holding her own, even though the song’s music itself is already compelling.
Evolve 3/5 – This track would have gotten a higher score, but something about Mya’s vocals doesn’t set well with the overpowering beat, with its strong bass line, powerful claps and snaps, and violins and pianos. It’s all just too much, and her harmonies in the chorus sound drowned out. Her vocals on the verses are okay, but it’s the chorus that does the most damage. It still is a compelling listen. Not a bad track by any means.
Alive 4/5 – Mya turns the J-pop to 11 on this track. In fact the lyrical composition feels very consistent to what I hear on most upbeat J-pop records. The song is masterfully produced, and it seems although the beat is all over the place, Mya’s vocals aren’t, so props to the technicians for proper mixing on this track. Mya’s vocals could have easily been drowned out like the last track, but again, she holds her own. She closes up the album on a high.
For the most part, K.I.S.S is consistent and coherent. The album’s greatest strength is that it is able to bounce around so many different styles and still stay intact. However, there is one minor issue that doesn’t affect the album’s tracks individually, but becomes more apparent while listened to in the album’s entirety. While some of the tracks sound very current and progressive, this makes some of the others in question sound dated, usually when comparing the more up tempo pop numbers with the more contemporary R&B cuts. While some tracks are intentionally retro, ala ‘Fabulous life’, when you put ‘Love me Some You’ against ‘Runnin Back’, you can see the huge difference in production quality. Not to mention that some of the tracks have some moments where I question the mixing. These problems however are not enough to the hold the album back, and if it was available in the U.S, it would be a worthy buy. Since it is a Japan exclusive though, you’re gonna have to download it through other means. -Lyriqueizmuziq
Standout Tracks – K.I.S.S, Fabulous Life, Fugitive of Love, Runnin Back, Love Comes Love Goes