Album Review: Hilary Duff "Breathe In. Breathe Out."

When I was 11 years old (and still very in the closet) I used to run around telling all my friends at school "Hilary Duff is my girlfriend!" for attention...my first MSN messenger account was even ilovehilary63 hahaha. She was the most beautiful and talented girl I knew who was remotely close to my age, so OF COURSE I was attracted to her. I was heartbroken when I heard she married a hockey player from EDMONTON of all places! I'm only a 3 hour drive away in Calgary Hilary! But more than a decade and millions of record sales later here we are with her 5th studio album "Breathe In. Breathe Out." I am definitely out of the closet now but...I'm still VERY attracted to recently divorced Ms.Duff...am I bisexual? Hmmmm....questionable.

Anyway... her new album is infectiously catchy! Even during my FIRST listen of certain songs I found myself singing along to the final choruses. For a Disney channel teen queen Hilary has always made great music. From "So Yesterday" and "Come Clean" until 2015 and "Sparks" she's always played her cards right and had very relatable lyrics appealing to her teen fanbase who has grown up with her. She has matured and evolved sonically and image wise just enough as an artist. She was always pretty clean-cut and has matured with grace and class.

Here's my track-by-track review of Breathe In. Breathe Out.

1. "SPARKS" - a great lead single and a fantastic pop song. The whistling, the beat, the chorus - SO CATCHY! Her explosion on the chorus vocally puts her on par with other great pop radio divas like Rihanna, Demi Lovato, and Katy Perry. The Tinder promoting music video/skit is hilarious, but I enjoy the straight up "fan demanded" version of the video more. It's also a better showcase of the choreography and the SONG. 5/5

2. "MY KIND" - Lyrically it's a different take on meeting someone new. A solid track and potential single. Production wise it kind of echoes a dancehall-pop vibe kind of like "Baby Don't Lie" by Gwen Stefani. 3/5

3. "ONE IN A MILLION" - You can definitely hear Hilary's "signature sound" on this break-up anthem. Reminiscent of her 2003 single "So Yesterday" and a lot of the Metamorphosis album it's full of positive-break-up attitude where she sings that she is "one in a million" and it's true. One of my instant favourites. The melody and chorus are infectious. 4.5/5

4. "CONFETTI" - an obvious choice for a future single, with the same kind vibe as "Sparks". It's better than most Katy Perry and Ariana Grande songs on the radio right now and it's super catchy. Lyrically it's fresh metaphors about confetti and love. 5/5

5. "BREATHE IN. BREATHE OUT." - Although not written by Duff it sounds very autobiographical about her divorce. In the same vein as "One In A Million" and "So Yesterday" she sings about top ten lists that she will not miss. Written and produced by Matthew Koma, this break-up anthem is the perfect title track for all the girls going through break-ups out there to to relate to. 5/5

6. "LIES" - Reminds me of her more recent work on 2007's Dignity it's got attitude and angst. There's some cool production. She's got the repetitive stutter type chorus with some nice horns and more dancehall-pop feels. Someone NEEDS to mash this up with "Baby Don't Lie" by Gwen Stefani it would be SICKENING! 3.5/5

7. "ARMS AROUND A MEMORY" - This reminds me of a little bit of her music from her self-titled album around the time of the movie Raise Your Voice. It's vulnerable in all the right ways but the production is very modern and almost EDM. Written and produced again by Matthew Koma, it's honest and heartfelt. 4/5

8. "STAY IN LOVE" - "Give me a reason, holding on just for the weekend" an interesting song about whether or not to stay in a relationship any longer. It's about two people who have definitely grown apart and changed throughout the relationship. Definitely has a rock/pop edge. 3/5

9. "BRAVE HEART" - A song about moving on with a "brave heart". At first it seemed predictable and formula 2004 Hilary Duff but it definitely got more interesting with the choices in background vocals and production half way through. Has a Nelly Furtado vibe for sure. 2.5/5

10. "TATTOO" - Written by Ed Sheeran it definitely brings a new sound for Duff. Comparing tattoos to a relationship. It's a solid track. 3/5

11. "PICTURE THIS" - Bringing back the whistling and the modern production Hilary delivers on this happy track. At the 2:20 mark things pick up nicely. 3/5

12. "NIGHT LIKE THIS" FEATURING KENDALL SCHMIDT - A really nice surprise! Very almost musical theatre-pop style duet. I pictured a Hilary Duff version of RENT. The guitars are really nice on this song. The lyrics are great they really give you a 'cinematic' picture about what this song is about. I've never heard of Kendall Schmidt before but his voice is the perfect blend for Hilary. I hope it becomes a single. 5/5

13. "BELONG" - more whistling, some banjos, belting, dance beats, it's a great song start to finish. 3.5/5

14. "REBEL HEARTS" - It's a good song, the production is great, and to anyone who hasn't heard Madonna's new album Rebel Heart and song "Rebel Heart" might like it... but sorry Hilary...It's too bad Madonna did it first. The acoustic guitars and the singing about a 'rebel heart' is too similar to Queen MDNA's newest title track. The only thing that makes it different and exciting for me is the organ sounds. However it is a great close to the deluxe edition of the album. 3/5

So there you have it. I think the success of the album will depend on where she wants to go as an artist. If she chooses future singles like "Confetti", the title-track, "Arms Around A Memory", "Tattoo", "One In A Million" and "Night Like This" I can see her evolving nicely. Any other choices (I think) would be playing it "safe" and continuing to be the same old squeaky-clean Hilary Duff. My top 3 personal favourites were "Sparks", "Night Like This", and "Confetti".