Boyz II Men

Motown Records, 1997




With their seamless harmony and church-going-folk image, Boyz II Men brought R&B to the masses with Cooleyhighharmony and the bedroom album II. The good thing about this were all the old and new R&B acts who were able to break into the money-making markets; the bad thing were all the Boyz II Men knock-offs there were amongst those new acts. But groups like Silk and Portrait have proven that there can only be one Boyz II Men; it's time for them to prove it for themselves with Evolution.

The title is misleading. There has been a miniscule change in emphasis - from bedroom to RL - but they haven't exactly gone up to the next level. The unconvincing over-the-top "I'll Make Love to You" and "On Bended Knee" are (gleefully) replaced by songs that take full advantage of the tear-inducing harmonies of their voices. "4 Seasons of Lonliness" is a smashing choice for the first single; the images and the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 bel canto delivery all touched with their original vocal mesh represents the album's overall style like a real single should (ya hear, Miss Janet?).

As it is in R&B albums these days, the producers get equal attention from reviewers. Puff Daddy is the disappointment; "Come On" is still a mediocre track despite its 10 songwriters (including names like Missy Elliot and Sting). Trying to pass low-scale whispers as sensuality does not work. What would Missy Elliot think? "I Can't Let Her Go" is incomplete and lacks the hip-hop feel to make it groove. "To the Limit" is another blind stab at the new direction of Top 40; some people just don't have what it takes. Not even Puff Daddy could help you.

"The Girl in the Life Magazine" screams of "ME BABYFACE SONG!!!" The guitar and some vocal arrangement echos "Water Runs Dry"; Face's songs are starting to sound all the same. "A Song for Mama", like "Dear God" to follow, is a bland-ass tribute even to a Confucious fan (respect your elders) like me. A vocal showcase, and no more. Even if "Never" is yet another reincarnation, it's still a good song; Babyface will get worn out eventually ... but not today.

This album would be locked out of evolution if it wasn't for the Flyte Time Productions team of James Harris, III, Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam. The real change is here; Flyte Time knows funk like no other in the business. "Human II (Don't Turn Your Back On Me)" sounds almost convincingly funky, and "Can You Stand the Rain" is a much more original a cappella effort than the earlier "Yesterday". "4 Seasons of Lonliness", like Janet Jackson's "Come Back to Me", is a milestone in Flyte Time's productions. Pop can be art, too.

They don't need hip-hop, new producers, major upheavals in arrangements or any other new-fangled stuff out there. Let Mariah work with Puffy, don't catch up to Missy Elliot and stop compromising with Babyface. Evolution is not supposed to work backwards.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 JB and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Motown Records, and is used for informational purposes only.