Another Level

Another Level

Northwestside / Arista Records, 1999

http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Another_Level_%28band%29

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/05/2000

If you thought that the field of all-boy bands was crowded enough, then grab a crowbar and make some room for yet another claimant to the throne.

Another Level has a few things going for them that sets them apart from other bands. First, they're very much R&B, while others like Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees could arguably be classified as pop bands. Another Level is multi-cultural, something that some bands would be hard-pressed to prove just from looking at them.

But the biggest difference is in the music on their self-titled debut effort. Another Level remind me of what would happen if Boyz II Men and 2 Live Crew ever decided to merge. Okay, maybe that's exaggerating a bit, but the subject matter that Another Level choose to sing about on more than one occasion is not your typical teeny-bopper stuff. But for that, this album is quite passable.

Now, I'm no prude by any means of the word; I enjoy porno as much as the next guy. (Of course, my idea of porno is trying to watch the scrambled signal of HBO on weekends, but that's another story.) But there's a difference when it comes to songs like "Freak Me" and "Ain't Nothing Going On But The Sex" and knowing that the typical listener of boy-bands is in their early teens. I have a daughter who will be four years old in a few months; if she was 10, I honestly don't think it would be appropriate for her to listen to her latest poster-boys crooning, "Let me lick you up and down till you say stop. Let me play with your body make you real hot." Ex- my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 cuse me?

Ah, but some people will claim that Another Level is not meant to be the latest boy-toy flavor of the month, and are actually more of an R&B group that is unfairly getting labeled. Okay, I can buy that - but still, on the surface it feels like they're being marketed towards the same group who listen to Backstreet Boys. And if that's the case, a line has to be drawn somewhere.

I know the question: "Are you going to do more than bitch about some song lyrics?" Of course; I'll happily give credit where credit is due to these four young men - Bobak Kianoush, Dane Bowers, Wayne Williams and Mark Baron. There are several cases that strongly suggest that Another Level could take over the slot left by Boyz II Men's sudden absence from the scene. Tracks like "Bomb Diggy," "We'll Meet Again," "Summertime" and "From The Heart" all hint at wonderful things in the future of Another Level.

Yet there's something about Another Level that makes me think that this band is still very much in the development stages. I'm not certain that they know which direction they want to take their music in right now. Do they want to be the next Blackstreet, or do they want to try and cannibalize some of the fans from other boy-bands? Do they want to be the next R. Kelly, or do they want to be the next Boyz II Men? Of course, they don't need to answer these questions right now, but there's no denying a little bit of tentativeness in the album, especially near the end.

Another Level has the chops to make it, though they may want to drop some of the sexual bravado. Otherwise, Another Level is an entertaining listen that dares to hint at greater things for this group.

2000 Christopher Thelen 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 Northwestside / Arista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.

Rating: B-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen 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 Northwestside / Arista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.