Rachel Platten – Waves (2017)

Share this:

Waves are natural, fluid and unpredictable but the production values on Rachel Platten’s similarly titled sophomore effort can make it feel like she’s just skimming the surface.

The album arrives on the heels of Platten’s success with 2015’s “Fight Song” as an anthem of empowerment and strength. She seems to want to continue in that vein, aiming at mainstream radio pop that gets your attention and tries to keep it, but maybe she’s trying a little too hard.

The writing and Platten’s voice are solid, and the melodies and hooks are catchy and easy to listen to. Waves certainly boasts some well-crafted and thought-out songs, such as “Perfect For You,” “Whole Heart,” “Hands” and “Fooling You.” These tracks showcase Platten’s serious side, highlighting a new vulnerability. She’s to be commended for tackling more personal topics, but Waves doesn’t always provide the best platform.

Platten starts off with a bang: “Perfect For You” is an ’80s-sounding pop ditty, and pure bubble-gum pop at its best. She conveys each lyric with power and conviction. Continuing in the same vein as her string of radio friendly hits is “Whole Heart”: It’s anthemic pop all the way, a true feel-good song. There’s one problem, however: Although many of Rachel Platten’s creations are filled with catchy hooks and choruses you want to sing along with, they’re presented in a sleek, cookie-cutter manner that’s too often similar in nature and tone.

“Hands,” a beautifully poignant ballad, is one song that sets itself apart on Waves. A spotlighted piano only heightens the soft, subtleness of Platten’s voice, creating an emotion that’s natural and pure. In this setting, Platten is really able to let her guard down, and her emotions shine through. “Fooling You” is another highlight on the album: The combination of a catchy hook and a chorus you want to sing along with makes it one the most relatable tracks on Waves.

In the end, Rachel Platten’s second studio project stays afloat with solid songwriting and Platten’s honest belief in what she’s singing about. The strength of Platten’s work, at its best, is when it comes straight from the heart. Her power and passion sometimes gets lost, however, in the outsized song production. Occasionally, a simpler arrangement would not only highlight her voice but would also unite Waves as a whole.

Kristina Mondo

Kristina Mondo

Kristina Mondo is New Jersey native, freelance writer, blogger and music enthusiast and a New Jersey Press Association Award winner. See more of her work at Off the Record: https://tunestoursandmore.wordpress.com/. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Kristina Mondo

Latest posts by Kristina Mondo (see all)

Share this:
Close