Album Review: Brandy – ‘Two Eleven’


    Brandy Two Eleven Deluxe TheLavaLizard
    Brandy’s ‘Two Eleven’ deluxe edition album cover

    During the early stages of her career, Brandy was celebrated as one of the most uniquely talented artists of her generation. However, as the landscape of Pop music drastically changed in the 2000s, she lost her footing as a major force on the charts. Now, after years in the studio, Brandy is finally ready to reclaim her prominence with her new album, ‘Two Eleven’.

    Serving as the official followup to her commercially underwhelming ‘Human’ LP, ‘Two Eleven’ reintroduces Brandy to music fans as an artist who isn’t trying to fit in with the trends currently dominating the airwaves. Rather, it showcases the husky contralto experimenting with her sound while remaining true to her R&B roots.

    Songs such as the sensual ‘Slower’ and ‘Paint this House’ depict Brandy confidentially embracing her sexuality, both literally and figuratively, as she commands an unnamed lover with her carefully layered vocals. In fact, the shy girl we see in interviews has given way to a woman who knows exactly what she wants and how she wants it, and it’s almost as though her painfully awkward ‘Afrodisiac’ music video never happened! Notice I used the word ‘almost’.

    Other examples of Brandy newly empowered sexual side can be heard on the tracks ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’ and shockingly raunchy ‘What You Need’. Bolstered by throbbing bass, the latter song features a catchy vocal loop and sudden tempo changes that makes it a strong contender as a future single.

    Honestly, ‘What You Need’, which strangely appears as a deluxe edition bonus track, would have been a better lead release from ‘Two Eleven’ than ‘Put it Down (Ft. Chris Brown)’. Despite developing into the Urban radio winner that I predicted when it first debuted in April, ‘Put it Down’ is far from a clear indicator of the direction of this album. Luckily, Brandy’s team can still follow in Nicki Minaj’s footsteps and let ‘What You Need’ be to ‘Two Eleven’ as ‘Super Bass’ was to ‘Pink Friday’.

    Another possible single from ‘Two Eleven’ is the infectious ‘Let Me Go’, which is an interpolation of Lykke Li’s ‘Tonight’. It is obvious the song’s producers Sean Garrett and Bangladesh were commissioned to ensure that this album wasn’t just a winner with the critics but also entailed commercial material because they were also responsible for most of its radio-friendly content.

    “…whether or not it was intentional, the structure of ‘Without You’ is almost identical to the theme music of ‘The Young & the Restless’…”

    Perhaps, the most interesting production is ‘Without You’. Crafted by Harmony Samuels, the song features a captivating melody that’s should sound familiar to dedicated fans of daytime television soap operas. That’s right, whether or not it was intentional, the structure of ‘Without You’ is almost identical to the theme music of ‘The Young & the Restless’ and I am not ashamed to admit that such a resemblance is the key reason that the track is one of my personal favourites on ‘Two Eleven’.

    Yet, before we discuss the latest drama on television, let’s move on to another standout track. Do you remember when Brandy spoke about recording Frank Ocean’s ‘Scared of Beautiful’ and stated that working with him was one of highlights of career? Well, she must have had a moving experience in the studio because her version of the record wins the title of being the best tune on ‘Two Eleven’.

    Passionate, honest and gritty, ‘Scared of Beautiful’ tells the story of an inner struggle for self-acceptance and the fear of her own greatness. There is no question why Brandy chose to record the song as it is a perfect depiction of the battles she faced throughout her own career, and the way she belts it in full voice – a rare feat for her in the post-‘Full Moon’ era – only emphasises her connection to the music.

    ‘Two Eleven’ is mostly filler-free and there are few moments where Brandy drops the ball hopefully on Ray J’s foot. In addition to ‘Put it Down’, the only songs that should have been omitted were the forgettable ‘So Sick’, ‘Music’ and the far too long for no good reason ‘Do You Know What You Have?’, the last of which should have been shortened as an interlude.

    Thankfully, songs such as ‘Wish Your Love Away’ and ‘Hardly Breathing’ provide ample distractions from Brandy’s minor missteps, thanks to her haunting vocal performances and clever melodies. Speaking of her vocals, don’t expect Brandy to sing in her neglected upper registers on ‘Two Eleven’ because she croons comfortably in a mix of heavily layered harmonies throughout the majority of the LP.

    In conclusion, Brandy’s ‘Two Eleven’ is a solid album and a fine addition to her catalogue of music. With what should have been the followup to her ‘Afrodisiac’ LP, she has put forward a well-produced and generally enjoyable body of work that is more than just a comeback album; it is a declaration of her standing as one of the few artists who are truly propelling R&B music forward.

    Standout tracks: ‘Slower’‘Scared of Beautiful’‘Wish Your Love Away’, ‘Without You’ and ‘What You Need’

    Weakest track: ‘Put it Down (Ft. Chris Brown)’

    Possible singles: ‘No Such Thing As Too Late’, ‘Let Me Go’, ‘Without You’, ‘Wish Your Love Away’ and ‘What You Need’

    The Lava Lizard Rating: 4/5 Stars

    What do you think of the review?

    • Tracy

      1 more day! I like your review Trent. 🙂 Much Love.

    • Alex W.

      Just me, but I do not follow critics…many have their own agenda which could help and hurt an artist. I will purchase the Album…

    • I absolutely agree with this.
      Two Eleven is an excellent record.

    • Ugh

      I haven’t heard the album yet. Can’t wait. I love Put It Down and don’t know whether of not it fits in with the album as you said. Either way it won’t change how i feel about it.

    • South of Love

      This makes me all the more excited to hear this treasure.

    • Cajunbajan

      Wow. This was a long read. Anyways I think the album is good. I agree Put it Down is weak compared to other tracks. I hope her sales are good. I always loved Brandy.

    • Tristan

      It’s a solid piece of work. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • bob

      Great review Trent i agree great album 4.5/5 for me
      disagree on some things “Put it down” amazing track to me though not indicative of the feel of the album agree on that
      ‘So Sick’ is also a great track
      Possible singles: ‘No Such Thing As Too Late’, ‘Let Me Go’, ‘Without You’, ‘Hardly Breathing’ and ‘Slower’

      I love also ‘Do You Know What You Have?’ and ‘Music’
      music reminds me of Brandy’s first album

      • lulu

        Yeah, Trent’s review is almost spot on! I disagree on a couple of things: ‘What You Need’ is not single-worthy imo, ‘So Sick’ is. Its very catchy.

      • I gotta Disagree with saying that:” Do you Know What you have” is anything but a super chill track.. I LOVE that one

    • bo

      So sick is my favorite track and its not that forgettable.Fairly good Review tho

    • Dean

      great review! but i completely disagree with so sick as being forgettable .. her vocals and the production are almost hypnotizing.. but yeah this album is amazing!

    • Music-Doc

      This was a really great review! I love “Slower” and “Paint This House” they’re two of my favorites! Brandy should get sexy more often like she did of those two songs! I also love “Scared of Beautiful,” “Wish Your Love Away,” and “Without You.”

      This album is miles better than “Afrodisiac,” and is even better “Human.” Thank, God, Brandy did not go the dance-pop route! I cannot take any more of that…

      Brandy really did create a great album that is up there with “Never Say Never” and “Full Moon” as my favorite Brandy albums.

      If you’re a fan of Brandy or just good music you should definitely buy this album!

      • DRB

        The only thing better than Afrodisiac is NSN. Arguably.

        • Music-Doc

          I disagree, “Afrodisiac” is Brandy’s weakest album to date.

          “Never Say Never” > “Full Moon” > “Two Eleven” > “Human” > Debut > “Afrodisiac.”

        • In my personal opinion, I believe that Human was by far her worst album. To me it goes, Full moon, NSN, Afrodisiac, Two Eleven, and Human…BUT…Brandy has been on a steady progression with her vocals on each album…Even though human was a horrible as a whole, Her vocals were the best until this album…

    • AM!R

      Trent, great review! I personally think this is one of Brandy’s top albums she’s ever put out and definitely my favorite album of the year. Certainly on the vocal front, she kills every single song! What makes Brandy always so special is that she’s never afraid to experiment. Each one of her albums has a totally different sound, but all are still SO Brandy. My favorite tracks are: So Sick, Slower, No Such Thing As Too Late, Hardly Breathing, Do you Know What You Have, and Music. I have no doubt that most people won’t be able to deny Brandy’s showcase of talent on this album, its definitely a crowd pleaser. I wish her the best and hope she sells well too!

    • ni

      Good review Trent!… disagree on the Put it Down. Her team knew exactly what they were doing… She needed that Chris Brown feature in order to get the new generation and mainstream audience. It may not be the strongest but it is the one that got people talking… She choose the other songs but she needed the buzz. I’m glad she took the chance because I did not want her album to fall through the cracks like Monica & Mary J and that is exactly what would have happen that is why she push the album back. I know you have the love/hate relationship with Chris but he did help. I still Love U. 🙂

    • ni

      oh I meant she could have chose the other song. oopsee

    • ni

      oh I will be buying the album at Target on Tuesday for 13.99. Yea Boi!! 🙂

    • sam

      Great review Trent! Scared Of Beautiful is my favourite too!

    • DeL_Cappella

      I absolutley love it! (the album that is) My least favorite appears to be…the intro because everything else is fucking fire

    • olivia

      Great review except for what you need being a single choice i don’t want to her that on the radio constantly. I hate it reminds me of Rihanna’s watch and learn both are my least favorites on the album so i’ll pass .I would rather hear so sick or let me go.My favorites on the album are wildest dreams,without you,scared of beautiful,wish your love away,paint this house and music.

    • Taryn

      BOy have you lost your mind? Music is the best track on that album.

      • olivia

        sure is and it’s my fav

    • Love

      Fucking album of the year hands down! Brandy SLAYED the hell out of all these tracks! I mean damn, can she get any better???? Chick is on top of her game. I pray she gets great sales and finally wins a few GRAMMYS! She deserves it!

    • Dray

      The fact that Without You is listed as a possible single is laughable. “Hardly Breathing” or “Do You Know What You Have” all the way!!!

    • michael

      Ms. Trent wrote the hell out of this article. Ms. Thang is writing for points. Yes.

    • TeamQUEENBEE

      Good review, but I disagree in some areas. Also, why wasnt ‘wish your love away’ mentioned? that song is EPIC.

    • Stima B.

      Put It Down, Slower, Wildest Dreams & Let Me Go have the best music and vocals of all 15 songs on the Deluxe Edition. “Hardly Breathing”, “Can You Hear Me Now” & “What You Need” can be much better songs if they had faster/fun/club music and if they had more energized vocal work from Brandy. At the moment, I feel they are boring & forgettable. “Without You” sounds like a song Beyonce could have done better. “No Such Thing As Too Late”, “So Sick” they have an old 1990’s feel to them and the remaining 5 songs has this somber/melancholy feel to them. What’s really sad is that many of her more catchy fun songs in the last 5 years that I’ve found on the internet are the songs that her “team” are tossing to the side & never using; making them unreleased songs.

    • Vanessa
      • BOB

        terrible review this person has no class taste and fact they didnt even review the whole album and turned it off says alot, obviously rihanna is there queen.. the love guetta and techo music and sicki garbarge no class

    • Rent a boy

      Trent gives such biased reviews. Get your nose out of Brandy’s ass Trent.

    • Rent a boy

      Trent gives such biased reviews. Get your nose out of Brandy’s ass Trent. We understand you are a brandy Stan but you do toooooo much.

    • Howie

      Trent gives such biased reviews. Get your nose out of Brandy’s ass Trent. We understand you are a brandy Stan but you do toooooo much. Tamia, Melanie Fiona,Monica,Mary,swv

      • Howie

        All the above had good solid soul r&b albums. I can’t even understand why you rip Monica up every chance you get. I see the trend Trent .

    • Benaiah

      This was a good review. The tracks that he said she ‘dropped the ball’ on, I disagree. I do agree that ‘Put it down’ is the weakest track in comparison to the rest of the album, but still very strong in terms of what is was meant to do, and that was reintroduce Brandy to a whole new industry. And the single has done well on the charts.

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    • @CheSkellington

      “Wish Your Love Away” is my fav song on the album.

    • Girrrl

      Bought it! My favorite tracks are Without You and Do You know what u have. My least favorite is Scared of Beautiful. I really like Music. Let it Go should be a single soon.

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    • boonella

      Without You is my JAM!!! I love the whole album.

    • LouLou

      I am finally able to make a comment after listening to the album a few times. This review proves you are not as musically inclined as you try to come off. The songs that you didn’t like are the top selling songs on the album. Do you know what you have would smash on the radio! So sick is an anthem and would smash as well. Music is a freakin gem! That is one of the standouts on this album. Do you not hear the way that she’s singing? I really don’t get this review at all.

    • Brandy absolutely Murdered Slower!! Her voice is in a pocket all by itself on that one. I really appreciate everything that she did on this album. Wildest dreams is hot too… great way to kick it off….reminds me of how she set off afrodisiac….LOVE when Brandy takes me there with her first vocal track of the cd…

    • TwoEleven

      This Album is it! This album is a true reflection as to why she’s a multiplatinum-selling recording artist. I commend her on a unique and pure structure of Real Music! ComeBack of the Decade! Brandy remained committed to her own sound on this album, and connected with each track! She sounds dedicated to making Hit Records again! This is what your fans need! (The #Starz @EuroYellaDude on Twitter 🙂 She didn’t attempt to cross over to PoP, She keeps it 100% R&B!

      I love Brandy’s Raspy vocals and how she understands and knows her control of her powerful lower registry! Alot of people have posted opinions about the track “Music” but its actually one of my favorites. I wouldn’t be surprised if the track “Music” became a single, She showcases her appeal to use her falsetto, and give brillant Ad Libs with an old school funk to this Great Song! I see a possible video! If you read this post, & you haven’t gotten #TWOELEVEN Yet, do yourself a favor and support this project! She delivered hands down 5 Stars! In my Rating!

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