Mariah Carey became a star thanks to power ballads showcasing her five-octave range. But over the past 15 years, her best material has been high-end R&B bursting with multi-tracked vocal work that used her playful runs and ad libs as tripped-out textures. That approach, combined with a breezy mix of gospel balladry (Cry), grimy beats (Meteoite, Dedicated), 70s funk and disco (Make It Look Good, You Don't Know What To Do) and bassy R&B (Thirsty, Faded), makes the pop diva's 14th release a fun and consistently surprising record.
If anyone can make giggling babies sound both innocent and psychedelic, it's Carey. Supernatural, a languorous mid-tempo Rv&B song that arrives halfway through, is the sonic equivalent of dropping a pill and getting lost at Babies R Us.
But it's just another day in the studio for the Elusive Chanteuse, who hasn't sounded this relaxed since 2005's The Emancipation Of Mimi. After turning her attention to motherhood, Christmas music and home shopping in the past few years, Carey's back to adding her sparkly touch to summer-ready pop tunes.
Top track: Cry