In 2003, Rachel Platten released her debut album, Trust In Me. The nine track disc was swept under the rug, while the 2011 sophomore release of Be Here peeked through. Now on everyone’s radar with the 2015 anthem “Fight Song,” Platten, 34, has released her breakthrough album Wildfire.
With 12 songs to showcase the same solid production and vocal ability that “Fight Song” did, Platten wasted about all of them. Each track desperately tries to cling on to what made Platten’s hit song great: being an anthem. “Stand By You,” the new single off Wildfire, brings nothing new to the table for Platten, and unfortunately limits the singer’s growth in an album that should have been used to take risks.
Wildfire is full of safe bets: catchy choruses, cliche anthems and easy radio acceptance. Its only triumph is the fact that Platten knows her voice enough to bet on it. “Speechless” could have been special, with everything amounting to what was leading up to a stand out track, but falls flat in the chorus. “Beating Me Up,” despite its lack of originality, is a highlight record that Platten uses as a palette of vocal experimentation.
“Better Place” feels like a last minute track, and backs itself into the corner of unoriginal. “Lone Ranger” is unimaginative in both production and lyrics, (“Let the highway and the crowd fill the hunger that’s in me / Fill me up with fireworks and tell me I’m skinny”) while “You Don’t Know My Heart” drowns Platten’s vocals in misplaced dubstep and auto-tune. The electro-pop “Astronauts” garners a recognition for its original content and production, but ultimately can’t save the album in its three minutes and 27 seconds.
The true stand out track on Wildfire is “Congratulations.” The song is striking within the first few seconds with distinct “na, na, na’s” that are reminiscent of Britney herself, before launching into a raw, bitter tale of a relationship torn down: “You think you’re innocent. Pure gold and heaven sent / But, my tears are instruments. They sound like consequences.”
The tracks blend together too nicely. The good news is that people will like it. The anthem theme will instill inspiration, drive for triumphs and gain a following of those who are fans of similar artists like Christina Perri.
For others, the album will flop off their radar in a few weeks. It’s unfortunately, devastatingly forgettable.
Wildfire is released through Sony/Columbia. Rachel Platten will be on “The Wildfire Tour” starting in February.