Boyz II Men 20th – Boyz II Men and Britain’s coolest piano rock players lead the new album parade with a 20th anniversary. Marking Ten and Twenty: Boyz II Men look both backward and forward with “Twenty” (MSM Music, exclusively at Walmart, B+).
Marking it two decades in the business, the harmony legends are celebrating with their first set of new material to surface in a decade. Plus they’re nodding to the past with a bonus disc of bygone-era hits (“Motown Philly,” “On Bended Knee” “End of the Road”).
Boyz II Men spawned here at CAPA has long been a threesome – Nate and Wanya Morris and their high-profile tenor Shawn Stockman. Original fourth “Boy” Michael McCary retired with back problems and personal issues, couldn’t even be persuaded to sit in for a few “20” tunes. But the bigger change – for better and less – is that the three singers have also taken over primary songwriting chores, claiming credit on most of the album’s dozen songs.
The globally-embracing, “change is gonna come” opener “Believe,” which they largely wrote, and the even stronger anthemic closer “One Up For Love” (most prominently crafted by their ex-songwriting mainstay Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds) serve as strong bookends.
And there’s some prime-grade meat in between – the quiet storm “Slowly,” the nuevo, nervy, Motown-flavored “Benefit of a Fool” and Earth, Wind & Fire-evoking “Refuse to Be a Reason.”
Babyface’s craft also colors the set’s most psychologically intriguing romantic notion “I Shoulda Lied,” wherein the narrator fears he’s just too bland to keep his lady. “My honesty has just become my enemy.”
Coldplay Heats It Up: Their name notwithstanding, Coldplay serve no tunes before their time, before the music’s been seasoned to perfection and heated to a rapid boil.
So it goes on the British drama kings just out “Mylo Xyloto” (Capitol, A-), a project which presumes that ALBUMS are still IMPORTANT works of ART, meant to be savored in one sitting.
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