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Album review: Trey Songz's 'Passion, Pain & Pleasure'

September 20, 2010 |  5:37 pm

Treysongz On Trey Songz’s new album, “Passion, Pain & Pleasure,” there’s a song called “Massage” that could score a backrub from a sex-crazed android. Over a spooky, austere drum patter and silvery piano, Songz works his creepy harmonies into an inhuman sheen as he promises to dig your knots out. Of course, the massage is just a prelude to what he’s really after, but the gesture embodies what Songz does best –- make seduction feel honed and calculated, but not necessarily less enticing.

Songz’s speedy delivery splits the difference between rapping and crooning; like Rihanna, he lacks an especially charismatic voice but often uses that trait to his favor. On “Can’t Be Friends,” he uses a reversed string sample and distant finger snaps to evoke the emotional numbness of a permanent breakup –- a state he prefers to a tormented friendship. “Red Lipstick” has the synthetic trickery of Timbaland’s best '90s cuts, full of jutting call-and-response vocal counterpoint.

Nicki Minaj, as per her usual, steals the trunk-banging “Bottoms Up” out from under him, and the latter half of this slow jam album could use less “slow” and more “jams.” But “Passion” leaves you like a perfect one night stand –- you don’t have to remember the person, just the way he or she made you feel.

-- August Brown

Trey Songz

“Passion, Pain & Pleasure”

Atlantic Records

Three stars (out of four)