I was intensely curious as to how the self-titled debut of the newlywed team of Carissa Rae & Michael Alvarado, collectively known as Us, would fare. Ever since joining forces on both the marital and musical fronts, they’ve shown a lot of promise as a team but we’re going to see how the chemistry of their story translates when they tackle an entire album together.
Things start off on an upbeat note, as the two jump into the Pop/Rock number, “Never Gonna Leave You“. It was a slight surprise in stylistic choice, but they pulled it off well. And just like it’s modest-budget video, it’s a lot of fun. On the opposite end of the spectrum (sound-wise), Us gets a little more serious and dramatic on their ballad “I Will Wait for You“. The song serves as one of the high points of the album, coming off as a completely relate-able and believable story of love.
In a welcome decision, both Carissa and Michael each have a solo(ish) track on the project (“Near or Far” and “Girl in L.A.“, respectively) that helps paint a picture of the artists as individuals. It also helps contrast the two singers, showing how well they balance each other out. Vocally, I’d argue that Carissa is the more essential singer of the duo, but it’s nowhere near the level of unbalance of, say, an act like Karmin.
Thankfully, there are no true ‘low-points’ on the album, but there are a few less memorable ones. “Missin’ You Like Crazy” spreads their cutesy/lovey-dovey act a little thin, though I’m sure some of you will love it. On the other hand, some of the tracks fail to stand out all together, simply because they are too similar – “Before We Go” and “Close to You” are prime examples.
For a debut album, this is a fairly strong release. Much of the project feels like a breathing testimony of their relationship, and therein lies much of the charm. However, even at only 10 songs deep, it is already apparent that their next release will need to dig a little deeper to avoid relying on the same themes and premises. The album is as quaint and lovable to listen to as the couple appears to be, and there is indeed a lot to like here. It’s all very pleasant, though it’ll be interesting to see if they attempt heavier songs as both their relationship and music progresses.
Must Listen: Never Gonna Leave You; I Will Wait For You; Make You Love Me; Near or Far
a-Tunes Score: 8.5/10