Following his tepidly selling, so-so 2014 album (Stronger), RB singer/songwriter Durrell Babbs – best know as Tank – returns with Sex Love Pain II, a follow-up to his Grammy-nominated original, Sex Love Pain. A talented vocalist who’s penned songs for numerous artists, how does Tank’s latest effort measure up? Well…sometimes it’s great or, at least, respectable, while others it relies too much on trendiness and that god-awful thing known as conformity.
“SLP2” kicks things off lusciously, truly foreshadowing the pronounced role of sex on the album. Not a bad opener, it’s sophomore cut “You Don’t Know” (featuring Wale) that ranks top-three on SLPII. Sampling Patti LaBelle’s beloved classic “If Only You Knew,” “You Don’t Know” Tank balances old and new like the pro he is. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t consistently maintain the greatness of “You Don’t Know.”
On “She Wit The S***” (featuring Rich Homie Quan) Tank embraces the hip-hop dominated modern RB script – there is no shortage of swag. That said, there is a shortage of substance and depth, and that is a problem. Tank remains a remarkably, polished vocalist, but there’s the sense he’s better than this song. “#BDAY” is stronger featuring Chris Brown, Siya and Sage The Gemini, particularly when it switches up from something of a predictable start.
“F***in Wit Me” reveals the “goodies” given its profane song title. As always, Tank sounds fantastic but the ceiling for “F***in Wit Me” is low – sex doesn’t allot for transcendence. “Relationship Goals” may not be quite as bold, but don’t think Tank’s goals are, um refined – he still wants to “get down,” even if it’s just with her.
“You a certified first class freak / and I love ya / you got everything a real n***a need, yeah…” Hmm, that ‘substance’ problem isn’t getting better on SLPII, is it? “I Love Ya” (featuring Yo Gotti) finds the 40-year old firmly in club mode, evidenced when he confidently sings, “Father please forgive me for all this flossing.” Give Tank credit for those vocal runs, if nothing else. “So Cold” is slick, if not particularly distinctly.
“Better For You” is a better look for Tank compared to the majority of SLPII. Maybe it’s because he admits to his shortcomings, showing more humbleness as opposed to cockiness. It’s not a reinvention of RB stylistically but easily ranks among the best. He doesn’t come out too shabby on “Already in Love” featuring Shawn Stockman (of Boyz II Men), making one ask, why wasn’t this the game plan early on?
“Him Her Them” is enjoyable, but less of a surefire thing compared to the two hits preceding it. One con – at over five minutes, it could’ve ended sooner and been more effective. The album closes with a humorous skit, “Bishop Cognac.” It’s odd, but odd also the general sentiment in regards to SLPII.
How does Sex, Love Pain II stack up? Average at best. Reiterating for the umpteenth, Tank sounds fantastic vocally. The problem is the material – it just isn’t always a perfect fit. Yes, Tank can sing about sex and be that clubby RB artist who thrives off of swag if he wishes, but does it really suit him or elevate his artistry or showcase his abilities? No. Tank’s best when he lays off being risqué and lets his amazing pipes make the ladies swoon (and dudes jealous).
Favorites: “You Don’t Know,” “Better For You” and “Already in Love”
Tank • Sex Love Pain II • Atlantic • Release Date: 1.22.16