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Pop songstress makes

Simple, sincere and catchy lyrics have made Ingrid Michaelson famous. If you're unsure of who she is, you might recognize her catchy single "The Way I Am" from those beguiling Old Navy commercials. Unfortunately, the indie-pop princess has had trouble recapturing the more charming features of her previous albums on her fifth outing, Human Again.

As a breakup album, Human Again fails to capture the same powerful melodies of other standout tearjerkers such as Adele's powerhouse 21. Album opener "Fire" replaces

Michaelson's usually perfect use of simplicity with overbearing, obvious and, at times, obnoxious imagery. Instead of the ear-grabbing catchiness, which appeals to Michaelson's fans, the listener has to listen helplessly as the phrase "walking in a fire" is repeated again and again. The listener, forced to endure Ingrid's banal repetition, finds no way to identify with her words. The emotionless monotony strips away any connection or sympathy the listener might have felt.

The tedium continues in "This is War." Unlike Ingrid's usual soothing melodies, "This is War" sounds like a discordant mash-up of notes. As the stale lyrics and dissonant sounds continue, listening to the song becomes both overwhelming and uncomfortable.

While Michaelson returns to a soft melody in "I'm Through," the song lacks the allure of her previous work on albums such as Girls and Boys and Be OK. Once again, the lyrics fail to evoke any empathy from the listener, and after about 30 seconds I was done with trying to force myself to feel the melancholy the song supposedly conveyed.

Thankfully, however, Human Again partially redeemed itself with a few pleasant tracks like those I had been expecting. "Blood Brothers" grabs the listener with an addictive chorus and proves Michaelson still knows how to write a good hook and get a song stuck in one's head. This is followed by "Black and Blue," which moves away from previous tracks' unoriginal metaphors toward more clever witticisms, detailing how Michaelson becomes "black-and-blue" after falling in love.

Michaelson's familiar calming theme continues with "Ribbons," which also showcases clever lyrics. As Michaelson sings about watching someone "falling like a homemade kite," it was easy to identify with the sentiments lying in the simple metaphor. The pleasant melody of "Ribbons" invokes the harmonies of "The Way I Am" and is exactly the type of track Michaelson fans will enjoy.

Though Human Again at times strikes the right note, it is more often dissonant and disappointing. I bought the album with high expectations, thinking I was going to encounter quirky and calming tracks perfect for a winding road trip or a rainy day. Although a few songs might fit these categories, I await Michaelson's next album with hopes of something more in the upbeat Michaelson style I know and love.


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