On his 11th album, R. Kelly makes a graceful return to the place that has inspired him so prolifically, for better or worse: the club.
Picking up where 2010's Love Letter left off, the R&B crooner explores grown-up 60s and 70s soul-pop that emphasizes his impressive pipes over his knack for unlikely sexual metaphors. This time around, he lingers longer in the 4/4 rhythms of late 70s symphonic disco and Philly soul. Gliding string arrangements, laid-back Latin percussion and lyrics more playful than perverted (like Share My Love's imperative to "populate!") make parts of Write Me Back sound like club music for clubs that no longer exist.
Although the flagrantly throwback Motown numbers are a bit warmed over, the album shines when Kelly blends his old-school approach with his modern club killa persona, like on the seductive slow jam Green Light and Believe That It's So, which has a surprise Love Hangover-style tempo change.
Top track: Feelin' Single