Pop duo Karmin has accomplished a lot in the two years since their cover of Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now” became a hit on YouTube: They have performed at the American Music Awards, been featured in Rolling Stone and earned major recognition for their 2012 original single, “Brokenhearted,” all before the release of a full-length album.
This much-anticipated debut album, Pulses, which dropped March 25, unfortunately falls short of the initial potential ascribed to the duo.
The lead single “Acapella,” released last June, set a precedent for the rest of the album: It’s a surprising yet disconcerting combination of typical pop beats mixed with rapping. The title track, “Pulses,” is just one of many on that album that attempt this same style. If Karmin was trying to follow in the steps of Nicki Minaj by creating an infectious mixture of pop and rap, they missed the mark.
Pulses also tries to incorporate a dance vibe and is slightly more successful in this endeavor. “I Want it All” shows off an electric rhythm that channels the disco age, while “What’s in it for Me” evokes a new wave sound.
And, as with any archetypal pop album, Pulses has its share of catchy ballads — notably “Neon Love” and “Tidal Wave.” These songs are slower than the other tracks but they’re still an example of classic pop uniformity.
The real problem with Karmin’s album is not the rapping or the ordinary dance beats: It’s that the album lacks originality. Pulses does not break any boundaries or create any new ones. The album will probably be a Top 40 hit, but that does not mean it is a work of creative genius or that it contains anything that hasn’t already been done.