After 2014’s Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart?, it became obvious that K. Michelle was a few steps ahead of her direct competitors: While there’s a stigma aimed at the female artists that appeared on Love & Hip Hop, perpetually working without releasing an album to their name, K. Michelle is already on her third album, and to date there’s been no claim that she offers anything less than stellar quality R&B. Now that she’s one step further ahead of the game with her third album More Issues Than Vogue, she’s attempting to show a side of her we haven’t seen yet.
Rather than following on from the cohesive, infectious energy of the synth-fuelled dance-pop hybrid energy of Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart?, More Issues Than Vogue feels more like a collection of different tracks, opting for something more natural but with more than a decent hint of her R&B history behind it. From its first moment, as she’s exerting her dominance and strength on the naturally funky opener Mindful, the album’s raw emotion climbs to a level far higher than before. Both here and beyond this point, there’s almost no dance music to be seen; Make The Bed brings the synths back with its buzzing bass lines and also acts as home to the album’s strongest chorus, but the remaining tracks move between biting urban clap backs and airy R&B pop tracks with heavy piano at a consistent pace.
The loss of the cohesion hits More Issues Than Vogue fairly hard; as endearing as the floaty, orchestral edge of Not A Little Bit is, and as strong as it stands as a lone track, it feels like too much of a far cry from the dominant sting of Got Em Like two tracks earlier. And even as it flows nicely into the vintage R&B balladry of If It Ain’t Love, this song also suffers by coming straight before the certified banger that is Make The Bed. The album’s second half suffers far less from this issue, as the songs become less biting and all electronics disappear—The closing track Sleep Like A Baby is the only other track to feature prominent synths—and the vintage sound takes centre stage, but in general these tracks still stand in direct conflict with the first half.
As a showcase of K. Michelle’s talents, however, More Issues Than Vogue is largely successful. There’s no moment that brings her musical talents to question, with her voice shining on every track from the fluffy pop of All I Got to the album’s ballads. It lacks the punch and sheen of Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart?, and its aim to put her many talents on show does further impair the album thanks to its messy layout and some oddball tracks. Taken in its entirety, however, More Issues Than Vogue is no less compelling than her previous work, even if it’s not quite as strong as a complete entity.