Review Summary: Tearin' out my hair.
Manufactured, patterned and sealed for approval, fresh from the factory; welcome to the heart-throb, boy band era of 1995-2005. Grab a hand full of good looking guys or gals -- occasionally mix the two -- and have them deliver the love and happiness to young kids and teens alike. There was an innocence to this type of band which has long been forgotten about in today's music industry: the image of these bands were aimed at being sugar coated and cute than sexy; lyrics were a lot less vulgar and smutty. A group aimed at children spent more time writing lyrical content about a guy talking about hanging out with a girl he liked, rather than the slut drop she gave him while the coke was flowing and the booze was swimming. A kid could genuinely look up to these groups without feeling dirty about it when it came time to exit teenhood.
This little group was at the heart of this era; one of the torch bearers of smooth grooves and dreamy pop melodies, backed up by a squeaky clean look to help it all along. It's also the group to contain one Justin Timberlake, soon to become a global phenomenon when he decided to go solo. *NSYNC's debut album is one of great potential and utter anguish. Album opener "Tearin' Up My Heart" is pure and simple a great pop track: containing all the hallmark elements needed to propel a band to the big time, catchy hooks, memorable choruses and great harmonies. It's the kind of track that will get stuck in your head for weeks after hearing it, due to a near flawless execution. However, the same can't be said for the rest of the album. Back in the day, when music actually sold off of a shelf, record labels had a dirty little plan to lure the punter in with a great single -- ala "Tearin' Up My Heart" -- get them to buy the album for said single and the deal is done. It's always been a distinct problem when it came to a group of this type; the marketing ploy is so clear-cut, it was almost daylight robbery.
No, when it comes to the meat and potato of this self-titled LP, there is little to hold interest past that single. The soft signature pop sound of the 90s is here, "I Just Wanna Be With You" and "God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You" have that slick Michael Jackson production, coupled together well with the groups soothing vocal work, which perks up interest somewhat and is catchy and enjoyable to listen to, but the level of quality isn't the same, and for the most part tracks are fairly dull. It does have to be said the album has the odd moment where a pulse shows up on this souless record: "I Want You Back" is a decent highlight on here and contains some of the great qualities the opening track has, but albeit still lacks spice to make it stand up next to it. NSYNC
most of the time suffers from dire lyrics, boring compositions, with vocal hooks that just aren't there. The guys just don't pull together enough to bring anything interesting to the table. And by today's standards, some tracks don't translate well: the terribly dated techno beats of "I Need Love" do little to help this record look any younger; the solo monologue on "Everything I Own" is vomit inducing to say the least, and the electric guitar moments on "Crazy For You" are hilariously out of place.
Overall, the band genuinely have some decent songs in their back catalogue, but listening to this LP in its entirety is painful to sit through. There is no craftsmanship here, no real care put into their work and it just feels like another album made to keep the big wheel turning; just like many others at its time. Their sophomore record fairs a little better, but you won't find much worthwhile here.