It was possibly one of the most anticipated pop comebacks of 2014 and Hilary Duff had her fair mixture of negative criticism surrounding the release of two average promo singles “Chasing The Sun” and “All About You”. It quickly become apparent that the project was reinterpreted and earlier this year the infectious lead single “Sparks” was unveiled. It was a boppier synth pop track co-penned by Tove Lo that screamed classic Hilary Duff. And following the mild success of that track she’s finally ready to give the world her fifth studio album. “Breathe In. Breathe Out.” is full of fun synth pop tracks that will have you reminiscing of your teenage years and embrace the more mature outlook on life that Duff is offering. “My Kind” is the clear standout track on this album and screams future hit single. It is one of her catchiest songs, full stop. “I let my walls come down tonight, will let you waste my time. I don’t care if it’s all a lie”. With relatable lyrics, an infectious pop vibe and an anthem-esque hook this song will never fail to impress. Hilary did a bit of work with Tove Lo on this album and two other songs she co-penned made it onto this record and they will both instantly become your favourites. “One In A Million” is the roadtrip empowerment song that you will find yourself blasting with your friends and leaving all your cares on the road behind you. The production screams Tove Lo with slight “uh-huh’s” and an EDM generated hook that perfectly ties the whole song together. “Stay In Love” was instantly a highlight for me as it showed a different vocal technique for Duff during the verses and then didn’t hold back with a big punchy chorus that will relate to anyone whose heart has been broken. “Do you remember when I said I’d die for you? Every single day, pretend that’s true. And you remember when I said I’d die for you? Holding on just for the weekend”. The big punchy pop songs don’t stop there with the bubblegum pop and EDM inspired “Confetti” and “Arms Around A Memory” which are very hit and miss while “Lies” brings back the “My Kind” sort of pop vibe with relatable lyrics and Shakira booty moving beats. She also worked with Ed Sheeran on the song “Tattoo” which is a cute acoustic pop track that is cheesy and reminds me of her early material. It grows on you after a couple of listens and because the lyrics are vulnerable and honest you can’t help but fall in love with it. “Running in my bloodstream these scars are the way that you loved me. I guess that you have to leave a tattoo, to remind me”. The honest pop ballad “Breathe In. Breathe Out.” will become a break up anthem with its cute message while “Brave Heart” is forgettable and worth the skip button. The pop filled “Picture This” is fun but not a standout and the humble duet with Kendall Schmidt “Night Like This” is surprisingly good but surely she had more options to duet with someone than an ex Big Time Rush member? The deluxe tracks offer some more pop goodness with the country tinged “Belong” which sounds like the better looking relative of “Chasing The Sun”. While “Rebel Hearts” perfectly closes the deluxe album it should’ve been included on the original tracklisting as it delivers a great message to stand up for what you believe and is the perfect pop feel good track. “There’s gypsy in our blood and we ain’t gonna stay. We’ll run away, we’ll run away”.
As a comeback record “Breathe In. Breathe Out.” delivers everything you would want; big pop tracks that are reminiscent to her glory years and new honest lyrics that take an inside look into her relationships and life. One influence we are missing is her son, all these tracks are about relationships and self-healing but doesn’t really look at the joy or lessons she’s learnt from motherhood which I was expecting to be a major focus. Her vocals have not aged a day and still sound clean and pristine just like on her last record “Dignity”. There are a couple of songs that will need the skip button but the majority will have you falling in love with her all over again. Prepare to be Duffed.