Who doesn’t remember Boyz II Men? They set a new standard for boy bands, they did it with class and style bringing their own flow of love. The Boyz managed to stay pretty consistent and peaked out on their second album “II” (which was outstanding to say the least), after that they mistakenly waited too long to put out another album and instead put out a Remix collection which was good, but untimely because their audience was beginning to forget about them. Well, several albums later we have their latest record “Full Circle”.
They begin the album with a really nice song “Relax Your Mind”, a very mood-setting song to groove to, full of harmonies that accompany a normal B2M song. Off to a great start, with a fantastic follow-up in “The Color of Love” which got minimal radio play. This is a very intimate song in a very non-sensual way, somewhat reminiscent of “A Song for Mama” (“Evolution” and “Soul Food” soundtrack). You can definitely sense that there was a lot of effort put forth on this track with the effective smooth transitions and various bridges alongside the beautiful harmonious background vocals.
Rob Jackson decided to step up next on “Ain’t A Thang Wrong”, basically another attempt at a club song. The only problem with this is that it’s way too difficult for them to be changing their image to allow fans to accept such a song from them. In other words, they’ve built their market solely on songs about love and a contrite heart, *not* on dance-floor songs so very few people are gonna want to hear this from their mouth, and in a sense they are hurting their credibility as passionate kindred-soul type musicians. Aside from that, the song is decent as it stands alone and Rob Jackson doesn’t necessarily help or hurt the track.
“Oh Well” brings us back to that traditional Boyz II Men song, and builds slowly and solidly which is almost certain to spark nostalgia in a grand way. A lot of strings and orchestral oriented music behind them makes this a beautiful song of longing. “Whatcha Need” pulls in a piano and trap set to call for a more K-Ci and Jojo presence mixed with B2M harmonies, which seemingly works but perhaps goes a little too long. “On The Road Again” ushers in a more urgent beat which includes a plethora of instruments, typical kick and snare mixed in with some very quick strings, and a little spanish guitar. Quite a nice rhythm and flow overall makes it a good addition.
The topic of the next track is quite obvious by the title “Makin’ Love”. If anyone recalls “50 Candles” off of their second album, this is very reminiscent of it through the beat, that is to say that it’s a slow spacey beat for a good interlude. “Roll Wit Me” is a very militant beat with some electronic add-ons, and is about picking up a girl. This should be a new and refreshing song, but it only manages to be monotonous and dull. “Right On Time” is a soul-oriented track, slow, steady paced and aimed at sensuality. Somehow they manage to slip in and out of the soul towards the end, there was also a mention of adultery in there, but overall not that bad of a song.
“Howz About It” is nothing new or noteworthy, and seemingly slips in and out of notice making you itch to scratch the Forward button. Perhaps it is the use of average instruments and vocal pitches and techniques that make this unbearable. “That’s Why I Love You” slows the pace down a small notch, and has a soothing piano but unfortunately they don’t utilize it nearly enough putting it as a more supportive instrument instead of a front and center role. While this is by no means a stand out track, it isn’t all bad either, instead it’s more of a song to listen to and think of your loved one.
“I’m OK, You’re OK” is more filler for the CD. It encompasses the standard kick/snare combination, and does not look to water you with anything new or worthy of attention. However, toward the end there is a nice little change in the bridge, but not nearly enough to save the monotony of the song. “Luv N U” isn’t exactly fulfilling or answering the cure for the anxiousness of hearing something outstanding or semi-loveable. It’s a slow love song and isn’t entirely bad, but it doesn’t build to anything that holds your attention making you want to hear it a few more times. The ending is also kind of unnerving, adding a little too much with the inclusion of Michael McCary’s sounds of lovemaking. “I’ll Show You” is a pretty smart way to end the CD, the beat is nothing new but the vocal sounds are more than two notes. A song of proposal, it’s a decent song between the ideal situation of lasting love but is this the same woman who is cheated on earlier in “Right On Time”? Hmmmmm.
Now I’m a BIG Boyz II Men fan, they rank on my top 3 favorite list. However, they seem to be trying too much and at the same time trying to little. What do I mean by that? They try too hard to broaden their audience with songs that wouldn’t even appeal to them if they were into their music in the first place, then when they make their marquis love songs they don’t always seem to focus on making the song good and refreshing as opposed to sticking to a formula of non-original lyrical content/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/chorus. I want nothing more than to say that this album is fully worthy of a store purchase, but outside of tracks 1,2 and 4, I can’t say that any of them are worth their weight in gold. Now if you’re a huge Boyz II Men fan, you may have already bought this album expecting something along the lines of “Evolution”, sorry to disappoint you. It would seem that Boyz are attempting II become Men and have backslid a little bit, I give this 2.5 out of 5 stars.
1. Relax Your Mind ft. Faith Evans
02. The Color of Love
03. Ain’t A Thang Wrong ft. Rob Jackson
04. Oh Well
05. Whatcha Need
06. On The Road Again
07. Makin’ Love
08. Roll Wit Me
09. Right On Time
10. Howz About It
11. That’s Why I Love You
12. I’m OK, You’re OK
13. Luv N U
14. I’ll Show You
2.5 out of 5