Sound — 7
After previously gaining some cred with her Indie Rock release "My December" Kelly Clarkson, for some reason, decided to revert to her "Breakaway" days. In other words, we get a pop rock/pop punk album that focuses more on the pop than the rock. Well, I think this is better described through a track by track, so here it is. 01.My Life Would Suck Without You: the opening single of the album is a fairly generic pop song with dancey electric beats. However, the catchy guitar line and Clarkson's impressive vocals make it significantly better than the other pop crap circulating on the radio these days. 02.I Do Not Hook Up: originally a Katy Perry demo; Kelly makes this song better than it could have been. A solid pop rocker with heavy guitars and some catchy hooks in the chorus. Still not showing what Clarkson is better at though. 03.Cry: the albums first ballad and an excellent song. Probably the best on the album. The strings and gentle guitar picking in the verses sounds spectacular together. The chorus is truly big in this album. This is where Clarkson sounds best, belting out big, mighty choruses. Quality track. 04.Don't Let Me Stop You: the arena rock song is another fairly good number with crunchy pop-punk guitars and another big Clarkson chorus. Catchy and comfortable. 05.All I Ever Wanted: the title track. Unfortunately after the promising power of the last two songs is cut short by this weak flat pop track. No hooks, no riffs, forgettable. 06.Already Gone: another solid ballad track brings up the standard slightly from 'All I Ever Wanted'. Piano and strings do well in boosting Clarkson's voice. Not as good as some of the other ballads though. 07.If I Can't Have You: arguably the weakest track on the album. I've already forgotten what it sounds like. 08.Save You: the third ballad (there are a few) marks the start of another run of solid songs. Also a good enough track, lacks some of the power of 'Cry' though. Probably better than 'Already gone.' Fuelled by some light arpeggios and a tremolo picking chorus accompanied by piano. Has a very memorable, string fed, chorus and Clarkson sings with some real emotion. 09.Whyyouwannabringmedown: don't let the cheesy song name off put you. This song is actually quite good. A bouncy pop punk number that brings Paramore to mind. it's fast and to the point. The guitars churn out some drop D riffs and Clarkson belts out some anger through speedy barks and poppy screams. A short solo is even featured. 10.Long Shot: an excellent song. Very memorable hooks. Clarkson's vocals back to they're best. Another big chorus is featured, fuelled by more drop-tuned strumming. 11.Impossible: surprisingly good for a track co-written with Ryan Tedder. Obviously Clarkson took the front seat in the writing. The strings sound quite good in this song, where they may have been just filler in others. Some memorable riffs are featured in here too, along with some very cool piano parts. it's only drawback is everything gets kind of buried in a wall of sound during the choruses. 12.Ready: an okay song. Sounds a little filler-ish. Staccato guitar in the verses and a semi-noticeable chorus. 13.I Want You: pretty weak track. it's premise of a funky pop song is okay but it is brought down by pathetic lyrics and lack of any real hooks. Not as bad as some of the other crap, but forgettable and a little stupid sounding. 14.If No One Will Listen: the last song on the album and the last ballad. it's driven by soft piano and Clarkson's fantastic vocal performance. The lyrics actually stand up in this one after the lackluster performance of the previous song. A good ending to an album with ups and downs. Thankfully it ended on a good note. Overall, the sound is okay when using her standard pop-punk or ballad formats, but weak in the electropop filler tracks.
Lyrics — 5
Clarkson's vocal skills are tremendous, there is no question. She has an incredibly range and ability. As mentioned before, she sounds best when in her pop-rock/punk or ballad formulas. Solemnly singing verses and exploding in giant choruses. In the poor attempts at mainstream electropop causes by Tedder and whoever else decided to steer her in that direction she sounds out of place and can't show her true skills. The lyrics are a bit all over the place. Some songs such as Cry, If No One Will Listen, Impossible or Don't Let Me Stop You show lyrics as strong as any album; or better. However others such as My Life Would Suck Without You, I Do Not Hook Up or I Want You just half-baked and dumb.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, the album, at fourteen tracks, is too long. The filler and weak songs could have easily been cut out, bringing the album down to 11 or 12 solid tracks. Instead we are left with 11 or 12 solid tracks mixed with a few really weak songs that do not sound in place. Could have been better.