Album Review: Karmin’s Pulses

Pulses

Album Cover of "Pulses" by Karmin. (Photo courtesy of Epic Records)

by Joseph Mastando

Rating: ***

From YouTube to the radio waves, Karmin’s funk, charisma, and sass have charmed the hearts of pop fanatics across the globe. Their second studio album Pulses may not have flat lined on the charts, but it seems as though it hasn’t left the hearts of its listeners pounding for more.

When Amy and Nick, pop’s most enchanting couple beside Beyonce and Jay Z, released their first single “Acapella,” it seemed they were trying something a bit different.

Presumably to play safe, much of their original album Hello showcased generic pop hits. But it worked; Amy’s blend of rap and soul, her unrestrained vocal prowess, and Nick’s sharp-witted sense of music theory carried the album to success. “Acapella” offered a bit more humor and attitude. It was a simple debut and it hooked much of the world’s attention. Since, the song has gone triple-platinum in Australia and Gold in America.

Their second single, “I Want It All,” confirmed much of the lingering suspicions. The song’s catchy chorus has an almost 70s disco feel (roller blades and a disco ball are even used in the music video), the topic is a bit more mature than their past material, and their looks in both the promotional photographs and the video appear much more polished, edgier, and classier. Karmin reinvented themselves, even if just slightly.

A day before the album dropped, the duo released their music video for “Pulses,” the album’s self-titled song that had yet to release. The song offered much more girth than the previous two. It displayed power; its heavy beats, its fierce verses, and its melodious chorus presented a strength Karmin had been lacking in its previous music.

However, the album itself didn’t offer the same potency that its first three singles presented. The songs mimic much of the first album in their overwhelming sense of “processed pop.” The depth found in “Pulses” and “I Want It All” seems to be lacking in certain songs, and the continuity of the album appears almost dissonant. Common threads and motifs aren’t weaved throughout the album much and the songs almost compete in their varied “pop” sounds.

“Drifter,” “Gasoline,” and “Puppet” are three of the albums more successful tracks. Their lyrics are witty, their melodies clean, and their refrains unavoidably catchy. No song in particular is bad—in fact it’s obvious they are well written and intimately crafted—there just isn’t anything too memorable happening. Nothing seems too innovative or different, and the tracks reach a level of predictability as the songs progress.

It is nice to see Karmin with a bit more chutzpah, but it would be even more exciting to see their music evolve and offer a bit more innovation and perspective. Karmin may not have disappointed, considering their album does present some feel-good tunes, but there is much more behind the two that is yet to be unlocked.

In the meantime, enjoy their wonderful acoustic rendition of their original “I Want It All.” It captures much of the innovation and soul we’re all just waiting to see on Karmin’s recorded tracks.

(Video courtesy of Karmin’s Youtube Channel)