October 16, 1995 12:00 PM

Mariah Carey

For every two music lovers out there who have been knocked out by Carey’s ample talent, there seems to be one cranky type who finds the singer’s pyrotechnique to be ostentatious and gaudy. That ratio should tilt precipitously in Mariah’s favor with her fourth and best album. Daydream vaults over its pop predecessors because the material is both funkier and mellower. Carey also has better control of her instrument—her voice evincing greater muscularity and agility. She still pours it on a little thick at times when it comes to fervor, as on the midtempo “Melt Away,” which Carey cowrote with Babyface. For the most part she buzzes from strength to strength, from the bravura belting on “One Sweet Day,” a duet with Boyz II Men, to the rich gospel feel of “I Am Free,” which has a mood so churchy you can almost hear the ladies’ handheld fans snapping. The wonder of this collection is that Mariah makes it all sound so effortless, as if turning out an album this good every couple of weeks wouldn’t be much of a daydream. (Columbia)

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