Virgin – 2001 – 51 minutes

Marking her first release for new label Virgin and her movie debut, 'Glitter' sees Mariah Carey return to the spotlight after some difficult months where her personal life was filled with more drama than anything likely to appear on the big screen. Roughly split 50/50 between up-on-the-dancefloor numbers and down-in-the-dumps ballads, the results highlight the best and worst of what Carey is capable of.

Too often the image of her on record is that of a kid doing her party piece in a playground. "Look what I can do with my voice!" she exclaims, before warbling with enough gusto to make a million bats change direction and head straight for the nearest record store. If that's your thing, 'Glitter' won't disappoint – the likes of 'Never Too Far' and 'Reflections' showcasing her four octave range but sounding roughly like everything else she's committed to tape during her career.

However when Carey calms down, ropes in a street chorus (including rappers Busta Rhymes, Da Brat and Nate Dogg) and is content to be one of the gang, 'Glitter' comes into its own. Carey works better on raunch not regrets and her duets on 'Don't Stop', 'Last Night, A DJ Saved My Life' and 'Want You', capture the movie's 80's milieu to perfection (with production so clinical you wonder whether the engineers work masks and gowns at the mixing desk) and prove once again that Carey should really spend more time around DJs and decks and less with grand pianos. The highlight is 'Loverboy', a gleeful rompy reworking of Cameo's 1987 hit 'Candy', as Cameo frontman Larry Blackmon camps it up Carey sighs, moans and warbles (but not too much) through one of her finest moments to date.

It's definitely not gold, but in life as on record, 'Glitter' finds Carey at a crossroads: choose the urban path and get the street cred or console herself with ballads she's bound to hear every time she sets foot in a hotel lift. No contest there.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Loverboy Remix - Lead The Way - If We - Didn't Mean To Turn You On - Don't Stop (Funkin' 4 Jamaica) - All My Life - Reflections (Care Enough) - Last Night, A DJ Saved Me Life - Want You - Never Too Far - Twister - Loverboy