Michael Jackson – Invincible (2001) [Qobuz 24bit/96kHz]

Michael Jackson – Invincible (2001)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 01:16:44 minutes | 1,58 GB | Genre: Pop
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Epic ‎Records, MJJ Productions
Recorded: October 1997 – August 2001

Let’s get the clichéd bad joke out of the way to begin with: at the time Michael Jackson released Invincible in the fall of 2001, he hardly seemed “invincible” — it was more wishful thinking than anything else, since he hadn’t really had a genuine hit in ten years, and even that paled in comparison to his total domination of the ’80s. That lack of commercial success, combined with a fading reputation as a trailblazer, a truly ugly public scandal, and swirling rumors about his diminishing finances, along with a huge wait between albums (by teaming his Dangerous follow-up with a hits collection, it wound up being overlooked, despite a gaudy publicity push), resulted in Jackson being deep down in the hole, needing to surge back out with a record that not only proved his talents, but his staying power. So, faced with a make-or-break record, what did Jackson do to save his career? What he did since Dangerous, take a turn toward the street and craft a hard-driving, hard-polished urban soul album, heavy on the dance numbers and sweetened by lugubrious ballads. It’s a proven formula for commercial success, but it not only didn’t push his music forward, it made his reach seem rather timid when compared to the wildly rich, all-encompassing musical vision of Thriller and Bad. Here, he’s reined in by a desire to prove himself, so he keeps his focus sharp and narrow, essentially creating a sparkly, post-hip-hop update of Off the Wall. It’s not as good as that sounds, because the infectious joy and layered craft of that masterpiece have been replaced with a dogged, near-maniacal desire to craft something hip enough for the clubs and melodic enough for mainstream radio, thereby confirming his self-proclaimed status as the King of Pop (a really terrible title, btw). Since he was exceptionally talented and smart enough to surround himself with first-rate collaborators, this does pay off on occasion, even when it feels a little too calculated or when it feels a little padded. Ultimately, the record runs too long, losing steam halfway through, as it turns to a series of rants about “Privacy” or a deadly stretch of uncomfortably treacly, sub-“Man in the Mirror” songs about “The Lost Children,” or when he says that he can’t change the world by himself on “Cry.” Fortunately, Jackson was clever enough to front-load this record, loading the first seven songs with really good, edgy dance numbers — even the opening “Unbreakable” isn’t sunk by the creepy resurrection of Biggie Smalls — and lovely ballads, highlighted by “Break of Dawn” and “Butterflies” with its Bacharach-styled horns. Even if these are too self-conscious and a little mechanical (which they are), they still have a spark and sound better than anything Jackson had done since Dangerous. That’s not enough to make Invincible the comeback Jackson needed — he really would have had to have an album that sounded free instead of constrained for that to work — but it does offer a reminder that he could really craft good pop. If only he had been fueled, not constrained, by his obsessions, this could have been really interesting. -Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1 Unbreakable (feat. The Notorious B.I.G.) 6:25
2 Heartbreaker (feat. Fats) 5:10
3 Invincible (feat. Fats) 4:45
4 Break Of Dawn 5:32
5 Heaven Can Wait 4:49
6 You Rock My World 5:39
7 Butterflies 4:40
8 Speechless 3:18
9 2000 Watts 4:24
10 You Are My Life 4:33
11 Privacy (feat. Slash) 5:05
12 Don’t Walk Away 4:25
13 Cry 5:01
14 The Lost Children 4:00
15 Whatever Happens (feat. Carlos Santana) 4:56
16 Threatened 4:19