“Where they at? Where they at?” As the ladies of Destiny’s Child ask this on the track “Soldier” from their new studio album “Destiny Fulfilled,” listeners may be asking the same question.
Intent on showing they have grown as a group because of their solo excursions, in which only Beyonce had massive success, “Destiny Fulfilled” lays the vocal showcase on in a rather hit-or-miss fashion.
Their first two singles “Lose My Breath” and “Soldier” actually take a few risks and succeed-the first with its marching band background track and the latter with its hard staccato beat.
With most of the album besides the first two tracks falling into a playing it safe R&B ballad lull, “Destiny Fulfilled” becomes a showcase for producers 9th Wonder, Rockwilder, Rodney Jerkins and even group member Beyonce to show how they can make the down tempo track fresh and exciting.
The tracks “Is She the Reason” and “Free,” which make heavy use of samples to harness a funkadelic feel take the best stab at providing something fresh.
With most of the album taking a very obvious Beyonce: verse, Kelly: verse, Michelle: bridge structure, tracks such as “If” and “Bad Habit” come across as inspired.
Although there is safety in highlighting the vocal strengths of each member, most of the time it is just plain boring.
However, Destiny’s Child comes across strongest when they pull together their individual purrs to provide some of the most tightly wound harmonies on this side of the Harlem Boys Choir.
Their harmonies can be considered a nod to the girl groups of the ’60s that they are intent on emulating.
Although it is not a well-kept secret, the album was written and recorded in a three week time span.
Sometimes it feels a bit too obvious. A number of the lyrics and even some of the vocals come across as disposable.
In fact, Michelle’s verse in “Is She the Reason” is no more than a 20 second screech that makes her voice sound weaker than it normally does in contrast to the other two ladies.
Sadly, the women of Destiny’s Child spend most of the album devolving to the mindset of the girls that they were on their self-titled debut album.
Despite a solid small following during that time, Destiny’s Child has apparently forgotten that most of the world fell in love with the sophisticated, strong women of the sexy, confident and strong image portrayed on the groups two follow-up albums – The Writings on the Wall and Survivor.
On tracks such as “Cater 2 U,” “T-Shirt” and “Bad Habit,” Destiny’s Child comes across as the subservient victim rather than the independent women that they have shaped themselves to be.
In “Cater 2 U,” they single-handedly set women’s liberation back two decades as they beg their men to let them cater to his every need and whim.
Slight purrs of strength on “Free” and “Girl” never come to a resounding roar to actually make a statement.
Unfortunately for these three ladies, seeing them slink back into their earlier persona is as painful as watching someone walking down the street in a pair of tight pants they outgrew years ago.
The few bright spots on the album do not seem to justify calling it Destiny Child’s new album as much as a pit stop in between Beyonce’s first two albums.
For Beyonce’s sake, this better be a result of saving the best material for her next solo album and not representative of the best she can do at the moment.
Destiny Fulfilled definitely sounds good and has a few sweet tracks, but it is remarkably unremarkable.
That’s too bad for a group that is still simply bordering on becoming one of the most important female groups of all time.
Hopefully, the next time around they realize they cannot afford to play it safe.
If this is what it is like to have a fulfilled destiny, it may be time to go back to when the destiny was a bit fuzzier.
Grade C+Contact Jason E. Hutchins at email@example.com