Review: Hilary Duff – Breathe In. Breathe Out.

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Toilet ov Metal, you say? Well today I present to you the following: Taylor Swift, Charli XCX, and for fun’s sake Nicki Minaj. Take a few minutes out ov your daily regiment of stuffing nerds into lockers to read my review of Hilary Duff‘s Breathe In. Breathe Out. Does one of my most highly-anticipated releases of 2015 make my top 10 of the year? Let’s find out!

The wait has been way too long since Hilary Duff released her last, stellar pop album entitled Dignity (3.21.2007), which to me is a five-star pop album and one that I still listen to when I need a break from metal. Some of you might not be too familiar with her previous work so I have chosen to quote a review of Dignity from a random Amazon customer (for privacy sake, let’s call him “Dustin F.”… no that’s too obvious, let’s say “D. French”):

Disclaimer: I like death metal. I listen to Cannibal Corpse, Immolation, Dying Fetus, Origin, etc. I don’t like pop, I don’t like rap, I don’t like EDM…
But this album is terrific! If a death metal fan can enjoy this, she MUST be doing something correctly. There are so many infectious pop/dance tunes on this album, I’ve almost burned through the disc by repeated listens. There are a few stinkers; but that comes with every album.
I’m not going to do a track-by-track review, but I beg you to give this album a spin (no matter what your musical inclination may be)! Some of my friends have overheard snippets of this when I’ve been playing it, and have quite enjoyed it too. Simply put, there are many talented and brilliant pop artists out there; it’s just that most don’t get the spotlight that they deserve. I can’t wait for the next Hilary Duff album, and I can’t wait for her to ditch that “husband” and notice me… (it’s worth noting that she throws away a lot of interesting stuff!)

Since that album she has been through a few life changes (marriage, first kid, divorce) which more than likely led to the delay of her next full-length album. But before I delve into the meat of the review, let’s examine three singles that Hilary had released prior to the Breathe In. Breathe Out.

1.  Chasing the Sun

2.  All About You

3.  Sparks

The order of greatness coincides with the date of release, for “Chasing the Sun” is a good summer tune that reminds the listener that our pop savior Hilary is not at all gone. “All About You” provides us all with a supreme hybrid of modern country music and sing-song pop that withstands the test of multiple listens (killer dancing included, WATCH IT). The third song “Sparks” IS THE BEST SONG OF 2015, regardless of genre, no flushes given. Here we sit with three really good songs in the bank; surely Breathe In. Breathe Out. will be a success, right? Let’s move on.


Setting: a dark, rainy day in St. Louis, Missouri
Date: June 16, 2015
Album: Breathe In. Breathe Out by Hilary Duff

Kicking off the album, “Sparks” (a song which I have listened to at least 100 times already) is just as spectacular as its video. We’re off to a great start! Next track, “My Kind”… Ugh, is my instant reaction. This song is not good, the beats are simply okay and the chorus tries too hard to be “Firework” by Katy Perry or “Starships” by Nicki Minaj. Why would this interest me when other artists have done something like this but much better? The disappointment is palpable, but I’m such a huge fucking fan of Hilary Duff that one song won’t lead me astray.

Next track, “One in a Million” contains a catchy and danceable beat, yet eventually plummets into a fist-pumping chorus reminiscent of a modern, watered down U2 song. It’s almost a clone of the track which preceded it! Can things improve? Gosh I sure hope so. But no, they don’t. “Confetti”? Flush. “Breathe In. Breathe Out”? Though it contains some serious Taylor Swift influence, it ends up being another flush. “Lies” is a terrible tune with jungle-inspired percussion ala Katy Perry’s “Roar”, so skip it. “Arms Around a Memory”, though Daft Punk-inspired, is ultimately flushable. “Stay In Love”, while a very good song, isn’t embed-worthy. It’s not until track 11 that we FINALLY come across a pop number that perfectly demonstrates Hilary’s limited, yet beautiful, vocal abilities. “Picture This” is the only song that matches the spectacularosity of “Sparks”, and so I deign to embed it:

I just love the whistling over the simple, acoustic guitar licks. Follow that with upbeat clapping over the main chorus, laid over what is possibly the best vocal performance of her entire career. Include marching-band drums atop light dance beats and you’ve got yourself a toe-tapping pop masterpiece. So there are two good songs on this album.

Most of the songs on the record follow a similar, aging formula. We are graced with two wonderful songs and one pretty good one, “Stay In Love”, so maybe it would have been better for her to package those three songs with “All About You” to make the most perfect pop EP of the year. It’s not a horrible album; many of the songs contain a certain degree of catchiness, but overall it is no way a worthy follow-up to Dignity. Therefore it is with a sad heart that I award Breathe In. Breathe Out. the following rating:

FLUSH

(image via)

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