Fans of Thicke's usual sound—sensual ballads and hip-hop-heavy jams—will not be disappointed with his latest effort. "Tears on My Tuxedo" resembles "Lost Without U" in that he employs his falsetto tone over a Latin-themed beat. Here, the lyrics paint a troubled relationship, reaching no resolution at the song's end. "I must rely on my instincts cause I can't trust your words or your tears anymore," he laments. "Cause just when we're about to get down to the truth/ You start cryin' 'bout how life is so cruel to you/ And there's nowhere to go but try and console." While the actual lyrics present a much darker picture than in a typical Thicke slow jam, the tune's lovely chords and his almost fragile voice add a level of seduction. While the album contains far fewer hip hop tracks, "Pretty Lil' Heart" should satisfy those who enjoy his collaborations with Lil Wayne on The Evolution of Robin Thicke. Thicke's creamy vocals and Lil Wayne's rap set the sexy scene, the horns recall 1970s-era Stevie Wonder rather than a rap track.
As the title of his 2006 breakthrough suggests, Thicke is an evolving artist. Love After War represents his constant search for a unique identity—in other words, how can he integrate retro vibes into modern R&B tracks, avoiding the pitfall of merely regurgitating 70s soul? Is he a Barry White or Teddy Pendergrass-like loverman, or a classy, restrained old school crooner? Love After War may not definitively answer those questions, but it does reveal a maturing talent who clearly wants to address topics beyond sexual prowess. Blue-eyed soul and neo-soul enthusiasts who may have been alienated by his last effort should give Love After War a listen, and experience the latest stage of a growing singer/songwriter.