Lea Michele has a voice that could sing just about any musical genre, but if you had to slot her into one, it would be Broadway. Her wide range and precise musical training make her perfect for the stage, not for belting pop ballads. Michele’s debut album, Louder, is a highly produced pop album — Michele doesn’t need autotuning or electronic fireworks, but many of the tracks on her album dilute the effect and power of her voice by masking it behind electronic gimmicks and fine-tuning. The first track and the album’s single, “Cannonball” is a perfect showcase of where this album goes awry — Michele’s precise enunciation and controlled breathing simply does not match what this album is attempting to be. Her singing is too practiced and perfect for the less-pronounced vocals required of pop singers.
The titular track, “Louder” sounds like a song that wishes it could be played in a nightclub, filled with an amped up bass line and upbeat tempo. Like “Louder,” many of the tracks on the album are fast and repetitive. The production is comparable to Kelly Clarkson’s earlier work, but Louder simply doesn’t have the same catchy melodies that made Clarkson a hit on the radio. And while the thematic concern of the album seems to be one of love and self-expression, the cliched lyrics — for example, “My heart’s too drunk to drive / I should stay away from you tonight / But in this blacked out state of mine, baby all I want is you tonight” — don’t do anything to differentiate her songs from a pile of mediocre pop ballads. “If You Say So,” touchingly dedicated to Cory Monteith, would be a moving track, but unfortunately sounds like every other song on the album. Her cover of “Make You Feel My Love” on “Glee” was a more emotional and poignant tribute to Monteith.
It’s undeniable that Lea Michele is one of the best singers of her generation. She just didn’t need to get “Louder” to prove that.