If you’re reading this review you either suffer from morbid curiosity or a high tolerance for pain. Sure people might tell me I’m losing my touch but I actually did the impossible, listened to the new Ashlee Simpson album all the way through. Yes I actually own “Bittersweet World” and I’m now going to review it for you lovely ENI readers. So is this album the end all, be all in music….hell no but for fans looking for some new jams in the pop field it’s definitely a rise in quality.
Ashlee Simpson really has never found her own identity until recently. She was lost in the shadow of her older sister and up until a few weeks ago she was obscured by marriage and baby talk with her boyfriend Pete Wentz. Her latest album “Bittersweet World” is all about identity and for her it feels like a departure. Compared to past tunes like “Pieces of Me,” “La La” and “L.O.V.E.” Simpson does try to infuse some maturity amongst all the pop and angst and for some tracks it works exceedingly well.
The opening number “Outta My Head” is a funky dance number hearkening back to 80’s tunes from Blondie. The lyrics are cliché, as all her songs are, but the beat is bumping and you can’t help but jump around. Fans of Britney Spears “Blackout” will feel at home with this track. This vibe continues with “Boys” which isn’t the strongest in terms of lyrics, guess what it’s about, but it keeps that electro tune and feels like something from The Bangles although the breathy vocals get really annoying after awhile. The 80’s feel starts to get tired in “Rule Breaker” which is way too slow and Simpson relies far too much on the background synthesizer. It doesn’t help that out of all the tracks her voice is the most obscured in this. “No Time for Tears” is another rehash of the last 3 songs only this time she seems to be going for something reminiscent of the Eurythmics and that damn synthesizer keeps on going.
“Little Miss Obsessive” slows things down and it works here after the overload of the first 4 songs. This song seems would seem a bit more at home on an Avril Lavigne album but for this track you actually get to hear Simpson’s voice. Her raw and ragged voice works well with this and I enjoy this track a lot. I can’t say the same for the next one “Ragdoll” which really ups the Avril Lavigne ideology with the angst lyrics that just don’t flow. My two favorite tracks are next, the first being “What I’ve Become” which is a bouncy dance song dealing with identity and “find[ing] my way.” This is a definite road trip song that you can take out with your friends. The biggest departure comes from the title song “Bittersweet World.” Simpson tries to get that jazzy burlesque vibe with a song that seemed reminiscent of Amy Winehouse in the slightest. It helps that the song deals with secrets and lies. The Broadway theme was interesting to see.
“Hot Stuff” is a hot mess of a song that I hated from the minute it started because its lyrics are beyond odd. Anything that talks about “Happy Juice” is cringe inducing, especially in a pop album. “Murder” is okay but compared to the past songs on this album it seems like Simpson is simply recycling ideas or running out of them. The last song is “Never Dream Alone” which is the only major ballad on the album. It’s a pretty song and the most stripped down on the album allowing Simpson to really show off her vocal cords but by this time it seems too little, too late.
The album is more than a departure for Ashlee Simpson so if you’re a fan of pop music in any capacity then you’ll be more than charmed with “Bittersweet World.” I give it a 3/5.