Album review: Jason Derulo's self-titled debut
On three singles from Jason Derulo's self-titled debut album, he starts the song by enthusiastically crooning his own name. It's a pretty goofy thing for the young singer to do, but the third-person shout-out to himself makes a certain sense after taking in the whole record. Derulo tackles an array of earnest trance-pop, glossy guitar rock and buttoned-down R&B over the album's nine tracks. His reminders that a single artist is responsible are actually rather helpful.
Weirdly, the post-genre pastiche works. Derulo gets a strong songwriting assist from producer J.R. Rotem here -- one rarely waits more than a few seconds for something deliriously catchy to happen. He's a nimble vocalist who uses Auto-Tune the way T-Pain does -- as an accent to already sharp melodies like the churning "In My Head" or the fizzy disco-pop of "The Sky's the Limit." The Haitian American Derulo also knows exactly when to deploy his Caribbean lilt to ramp up a song's melodrama, and it's one of his best vocal tricks.
The veering eclecticism of the album suggests that he's still figuring out his sound though, and he won't have untilled Imogen Heap samples, like on the inescapable "Whatcha Say," to work off of forever. Nonetheless, it's a pleasure-packed debut, and Derulo's melismatic call sign should be pouring out of car windows for the duration of 2010.
-- August Brown
Beluga Heights/Warner Bros.
Two and a half stars (Out of four)