A nation’s outrage wasn’t enough to sink the surprisingly enduring career of Chris Brown. Just two years removed from one of the ugliest scandals in modern pop history, Brown is enjoying healthy amounts of airplay for the singles off his new album, and he can’t resist gloating. The title of Brown’s new record, F.A.M.E. (short for “Forgiving All My Enemies”), speaks volumes about his delusional interpretation of his 2009 domestic-assault arrest—who’s supposed to be forgiving who, now?—but at least he makes good on his promise to move on. Tempering the spitefulness of the 2009 pity party Graffiti, Brown limits the axe-grinding on this relatively likeable follow-up to a few digs at an unnamed (possibly famous Barbadian) vixen on the opener, “Deuces,” before perking up for a plucky, bedroom-and-dance-floor-minded set of songs. On F.A.M.E.’s effervescent slow jams and up-tempo R&B struts, Brown makes a solid case for himself as an adult artist. He inevitably falls flat, though, when he tries to reclaim his teen-idol mantle on oversold ballads like “All Back” and “Next 2 You,” a chaste Justin Bieber duet out of place amid after-dark fare like “No Bullshit” and the lewd, Ludacris-assisted “Wet The Bed.” Horniness comes naturally to Brown, but innocence is a much tougher sell.
More from The A.V. Club