It may be a cheap joke to call “E=MC2,” Mariah Carey’s new album, formulaic … but most formulas add up to something. This album doesn’t. From “Migrate,” the opening Jermaine Dupri-produced club hopping grind (featuring a lascivious, auto-tuned rap from T-Pain) to “I Wish You Well,” the ballad that gives the album it’s emotional finish, it sounds as though Carey and her various producers and collaborators looked at 2005’s “Emancipation of Mimi,” her multi-platinum comeback, and said, “I’ll have that again.”
It’s a piecemeal production, with something for every radio format — a little R&B, a taste of pop, a couple of guest rappers, some adult balladry — but the one piece that’s missing is Carey’s voice. Her five octave range (which on her early singles sounded like it could bend time and space) is utilized only to ornament the grooves. And only the first single, “Touch My Body,” evinces any personality. It’s a paranoid come-on, that promises sensual delight, but only on her terms, and it’s a perverse kick to hear her sex-kitten coo threatening to hunt her lover down if he breathes a word of their tryst.