Arts and Entertainment

The Missing Magic in “Reverie”

A review of Ben Platt’s newest album, “Reverie,” and why it falls short of successful.

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Ben Platt wasn’t always a pop singer. His intoxicating stage presence, incredible acting skills, and stunning vocals are what made him a Broadway star, but only recently did he take to the studio to start recording albums. His fans primarily know him for his appearances in the “Pitch Perfect” films, his Tony-award-winning performance in the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” (2021), and his starring role in the TV series “The Politician” (2019). He’s talented and lovable, and he’s proven to be quite versatile, but is pop music the right path for him?

“Reverie” is Platt’s sophomore album and consists of 10 tracks, split up in three 30-second interludes. In contrast to his prior LP, “Sing To Me Instead” (2019), which spotlights an acoustic sound with stripped-down vocals, “Reverie” features heavier production and explores a synth-pop soundscape––a light disco atmosphere, punctuated by rising and falling ’80s dance beats. Every track transports the listener to a daydream. The upteslacmpo songs have rhythmic dancing grooves, high-pitched beats, and smooth chords. The slower ones sound more soulful, focusing on simple melodies and acoustic-like instrumentals, like the piano accompaniment in “dark times,” a theatrical ballad similar to those Platt used to sing on Broadway. However, most tracks, such as “chasing you,” which uses electro-pop pulses to pull the listener in, and “leave my mind,” a song of syncopation and off-beats, rely on music production.

The album’s first single, “imagine,” initially released in May, gave fans a reason to look forward to Platt’s upcoming album. The lyrics, though repetitive, are on-point, and the production manages to retain Platt’s signature soulful and melodic style while branching off into mainstream pop. Needless to say, the vocals are impeccable, showing off his impressive range and silky tone.

However, as a whole, “Reverie” doesn’t bring much to the table that the pop world hasn’t heard before. Halfway through the album, the songs become monotonous, and the sound grows tiresome and colorless. A handful of tracks like “I wanna love you but I don’t,” “dance with you,” “happy to be sad,” and “chasing you” don’t offer more depth beyond their titles, lacking potency, emotional intimacy, and overall artistry. The topics—heartbreak, once-in-a-lifetime romance, the trials of love—simply regurgitate what countless other pop songs have already expressed, with cliche lyrics matched to dull, two-note melodies and droning downbeats. In “dark times” and “childhood bedroom,” Platt’s lyricism improves, but—like the vocals—fails to achieve the same intensity that his debut album did. The songs, buried in a pile of excessive music production, don’t highlight Platt’s voice. The flatter, uncolored vocal mix, taking away any possible spark from the album’s sound, along with the unimaginative lyrics and hackney song topics, make for a disappointing second project. Hopefully, the Broadway-film actor and pop singer will imagine new ways to surprise the pop world in the future. For now, the heartfelt, intimate tracks of his debut album remain his most successful musical endeavor, a testament to the talent and artistry of Ben Platt.