|Saturday, November 24, 2001||
Probably one of the most successful, massive boy bands on earth, ’NSync is back with their fourth album. The ‘NSync boys have always kept in step with the ever growing competition, and with Celebrity, they’ve entered a whole new race altogether. The album is a collection of electro-pop, staccato-versed songs about fame, its price and consequences. Members JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake (co-producers and co-writers of most of the tracks) have drawn on hip-hop, R&B and electronica to prove their versatility. Celebrity opens with a breathy push, with the boys asking, "If I wasn’t a celebrity, would you be so nice to me?" Musically, the album is very ambitious and adventurous. The BT-produced, funkylicious, rock-riffed radiance of Pop is the biggest moment of the album. The Game Is Over offers Pac-Man samplers merged with groove like Destiny Child’s Bug A Boo. Girlfriend— produced by the Neptunes, featuring Pharrell Williams of NERD — is a powerful soul ballad. The listeners are sure to be pleased by the Prince-influenced Gone, the Miami bass beat of The Two Of Us and the Stevie Wonder harmonica cameo on Something Like You. Selfish is a smoochy, smaltzy summer ballad, while The Game Is Over uses arcade game noises resulting into a gripping percussive effect. The band does get to rock-out on some tracks, but it’s the slower epics like The Two Of Us and Just Don’t Tell Me That that really hit the spot. Overall, Celebrity is a triumph, making ’NSync boys the torchbearers of the new pop-generation. Recommended listening.
Right Said Fred —
This British dance-pop trio scored a US number one single for three weeks with I’m Too Sexy in 1992. Formed by brothers Fred Fairbass and Richard with guitarist Rob Manzoli, the band actually got their name from the 1962 hit single by Bernard Cribbins. Their tongue-in-cheek lyrics, easy rhythm lines, catchy hooks, shaven heads and err… bare chests instantly became their trademarks. The follow-ups Deeply Dippy and Don’t Talk Just Kiss were both major UK hits. After the not-so-popular Sex and Travel album, the band finally formed its own label in 1996 with the release of its third album Smashing! It gave out the smash hit single Bigtime. What’s new then? Well, the band is back with their fourth album titled Fredhead. Loaded with unique sounds and great lashings of self-irony, the album is unarguably an impressive comeback. Featuring You’re My Mate (which has already sold platinum in South Africa), Love Song, remake of their chart toppers I’m Too Sexy and Don’t Talk Just Kiss and the mega single Mojive (short for modern jive), Fredhead is sure to lure the listeners into the world of pure pop music. Standouts include Lovers.com, a knockout track that eventually blossoms into a completely over-the-top dance number; Bring Your Smile, with its slick backing vocals and Insatiable You, with immense juggling and processed guitar works. Three words — appealing, catchy and lighthearted — sum up the album.
Five — Kingsize
Five were brought together by the same people who recruited the Spice Girls. Unlike the polished image of Westlife, these lads are happy with the ‘bad boys’ title. Selling 6 million albums to date, Five has come a long way. Although sticking to the pop label, their music mixes rap and funk, giving them an edge over other boy bands. Their past smash hits like Slam Dunk (Da Funk), Everybody Get Up, Keep On Movin’, If Ya Getting’ Down… make for an interesting and impressive back catalogue. Five’s third album Kingsize carries on the band’s successful trademark eclectic sound. Raunchy rock numbers, slamming R&B, tough rap tracks, melodic ballads, it’s all there. Opener Let’s Dance attempts a 70’s boot call of funked-up filters and vocoders. Lay All Your Lovin’ On Me sees the band wearing a heavy metal outfit. It includes a sample from AC/DC’s Back In Black, turning it into a stunning monster live track. Rock The Party is built around the Grease theme with a classic disco funk feel. The Westlife pastiche Closer To Me must count as Five’s best ballad so far. Arm-waving Feel The Love sounds like a Christmas chart topper. All Around showcases the lads’ mature writing skill. C’mon, C’mon is an experimental track with a lot of harmonica and guitar sounds thrown here and there. We’re Going All Night, the weakest point of the album, is a bad imitation of Let’s Dance. On Top Of The World, Let’s Get It On and Something In The World are worth listening to. The rest of the album never deviates far from the Five’s territory, despite attempting the 80’s electro pop and 70’s disco sounds. Unless you are a fan of the formulaic Five, listen to this at your own risk.
Mania — Various Artists
With the drum and bass scene going all nostalgic, DJ Nasha is no stranger to updating the old classics. Titled Romanov Party Mania, the compilation is all set to lead the techstep movement for drum ’n’ bassers looking for beats with a bite. The hip-hop sampling here ranges from hot dance floor fillers to age-old Bollywood classics. As music for the dance masses, Party Mania does a good job of gathering 10 tracks for mainstream club music. Opening up with the rhythm-fuelled Jawaan Jaaneman, the collection is a wicked and wild rampage down memory lane. DJ Nasha’s ‘R Type’ comes with amusement arcade sonics, devilish beats and softly exploding basslines. Nasha applies some cunningly reversed beats to renegade snares and raga gunshot bizznizz on Tubthumping. The headliners include RURV (Flute Fantasy Dub), Move Your Body, This Is Your Night by Amber and Synchyme (Karma version). A fine retrospective of the good ol’ days and a timely reminder that drum and bass have it in them to moves bodies in an instant.
Album of the month
Staind — Break The
Fans of heavy rock — this one is yours. The alt-metal band from Springfield unleashes its new album Break The Cycle and what more, the album is finally released in India. Like its earlier albums Torment and Dysfunction, this one too sticks with the tormented cycle, talking about self-doubt, broken homes and heartbreak. The songs are all drenched in melancholy melodies and slow, heavy riffs typical of the alt-rock genre. The title of the album refers to the misery passed on from generation to generation and the inner turmoil. To the band’s credit, frontman Aaron Lewis has a Kurt Cobain-like ache in his voice. The lovely Epiphany’s tender acoustic strum warms you with lyrics like "I want to come apart or dig myself a little hole inside your precious heart." Aaron’s heartfelt vocals does wonders on Waste, a hard-hitting tale of a fan who commits suicide. Outside is another standout track that comes in two versions, one a simple live duet with Fred Rollin’ Durst and the other a weighty studio version. The heavier sounds come in the form of the hardcore grunge ballad Warm Safe Place, Can’t Believe (the most aggressive song on the album), Pressure and For You, both of which are packed with explosive energy. The radio-bound Its Been Awhile strikes universal chords, effectively capturing the bitterness of regret. The appeal of Staind lies in the purity and fierce emotional integrity of their music, traits seldom seen in heavy rock acts. Happy rocking!
— Saurabh & Gaurav