The title should have been an indication that David Guetta‘s latest effort would be no masterpiece. If you have to be straight-up told to Listen, chances are you’re not going to actually want to.
Maybe I’m being too harsh; Listen isn’t a bad album per se. It’s just not a great one. There’s nothing especially fresh, and none of the tracks had me excited for a repeat listen. Unlike 2011’s Nothing But the Beat, which had sufficient material for a string of hit singles (“Turn Me On,” “Where Them Girls At,” “Without You” and the iconic “Titanium,” if you’ve forgotten), Listen doesn’t have a fraction of the hit-making potential of, say, a Calvin Harris album.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVr__5Addjw]
There’s some diversity on the album, but only if you’re straining your ears to find it. Guetta does a fairly excellent job tweaking his signature style to fit the sensibilities of the array of artists he’s chosen to feature. Some of the artists he’s lined up were obvious choices (bringing back Nicki Minaj and Sia), some were inspired (giving Emeli Sandé and Bebe Rexha a chance to shine), and some are real headscratchers (perpetual one-hit wonder MAGIC! holds down a track with Dutch singer Sonny Wilson, and the impossibly dull Sam Martin gets two tracks to himself).
Overall though, Listen feels fairly dated, and much of the material falls flat. The climactic drops fall exactly where they’re expected, and the lyrics are often lazy. Even the beats themselves feel phoned in: the main beat underlying “Yesterday” is invisible and forgettable under Rexha’s vocals, and, honestly, I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what a single beat even sounded like, even after repeat spins. Unfortunately, Listen is not the listen it should have been.