Okay I wanna start by saying that Only Human is definitely not Cheryl's best album. The three singles are some of the best tracks on the album. The album came out in 2014 but it's taken till now to really completely grow on me. I've finally given up on my hopes for it to top or be better than her opus, A Million Lights. Having given that up I've been able to appreciate the album for what it is. I'm not gonna deny though that some songs on the album are just flat out not good. But it is what it is.
Okay so I'm gonna review this album in sections. Starting with what I find to be the best and strongest section of the album, Intro + tracks 1-6.
I quite like the album's intro. The intro is an excerpt from Alan Watts' speech "What If Money Was No Object". I think it was done well on the album. The speech is played over a pretty instrumental piece. Granted I'm not a fan of album's having intro's but I really just consider this to be part of the track that it flows seamlessly into, "Live Life Now". I find Live Life Now to be more of an extension of the Intro as it really isn't a full song. It's basically complete spoken word over a pulsating beat. It doesn't really have a true chorus either. That being said if it is treated as the intro to album then I think it works to a degree. Moving onto "It's About Time". This is a song I hated initially but has really grown on me immensely. It may not be anything groundbreaking but it's a fun track, one of the better one's on the album. It is follow by the album's lead single "Crazy Stupid Love". I still think this is an amazing song. It's such a bop. Even the tacky horns. It's just infectious. Even Tinie's verse slays. "Kissed her twice now she say I'm Mr. Right / She had my D now she dickmatised". It's one of those lines that is so cringeworthy it slays. "Waiting For Lightning" is the next track. I feel this song is really slept on. It's one of my personal favorites on the album and definitely one of the best. Idk why but I always think this is the Sia track on the album which is actually not the case. I like how the chorus starts mellow before letting loose. The album's second single "I Don't Care" is next. I hated this song when it was first released. I have no idea why looking back. It's such a bop. The caribbean vibes in the instrumental are great. It's a total hands in the air, carefree bop. It is followed by the title track. I really have a thing for title tracks. They're basically the first thing my eye is drawn to when I get a new album. If an artist is gonna include a title track it better be real fucking good. In the case of "Only Human" I think Cheryl did a great job. It's an amazing song. It's simple and beautiful. I like the use of the vocal effects and feel they go with the mood/style she was trying to create. I do think they could have been toned down just a tad. Great song nonetheless.
Okay so now that the strongest section of the album is done it's time to review the remaining 11 songs. I write as much about each one as most don't deserve it.
"Stars" is not the song you follow up an amazing song like "Only Human" with. It's a cute bop at best. "Throwback" is actually quite good. I just think the concept is so overdone and tired. "All In One Night" is pretty moody and sensual. I wish the vocals were little more prominent at times because they kinda get lost in the music. One of the better songs on the album. I consider these three songs to be the second tier of the album. You have the opening six tracks which I consider to be the best. Then these next three which would be second best. The album really gets iffy from now on.
"Goodbye Means Hello" is a song I had high hopes for as Nicola Roberts has a writing credit on it. However it's just so boring. Idk if it's her songwriting on it, Cheryl's delivery or a combination of both but it's just flat. "Coming Up For Air" was a song I remember some people loving when the album dropped and others hated. I never liked it and still don't. Cheryl tries way too hard to get a sexual vibe and it's quite apparent. The breathiness doesn't really work imo. The sensualness worked imo on "All In One Night" but fails here. Next comes "Fight On". It's your average motivational pop tune. Another super tired concept. Not a bad song, just doesn't feel fresh.
"Yellow Love" is another song with a Nicola Roberts writing credit. I find this song miles better than "Goodbye Means Hello". I think the verses are beautiful. I wish the chorus didn't go down that super motivational route but oh well. One of the better tracks in the second half of the album. And now we get to "Beats N Bass". I LOVE this song. But that doesn't mean it isn't tragic. It's so bad. Like why Cheryl. But it's a song I just can't help but bop to. I was hoping "Tattoo" would be a slow, regret filled number from Cheryl about her tragic ass tattoo but nope. It's the same old 'your love is like a tattoo' that so many artists do. Yawn. Now we're at "Firecracker" which is the actual Sia penned track on the album. I don't think it sounds like a Sia song at all honestly. The song has this weird country twang to it. Cheryl uses a terrible country twang on her voice and it's just bad. Let's move on from this mess. The album closes with "I Won't Break". I like when albums are closed with ballads. I find this one like a lot of songs on the album has a slightly tired concept but it's bearable here. I like this track quite a bit. I think it's a good album closer. Nothing amazing but at least Cheryl closed the album on a good note rather than ending it all with a mess like "Firecracker".
I do think that as a whole the album is underrated. I think it is a HUGE grower. It took so long for much of it to grow on me. I think it definitely has amazing moments though. It may not be as good as A Million Lights. But it's sure as hell miles better than Tragic Little Shitdrops.