Tuesday, July 19, 2016

O-TOWN - Lines & Circles (2014)


I'm hangin' around town with the O-TOWN boys for one more day.....minus one member of the crew., that is. Excited to have them back nonetheless! In this continuing recent spirit of boyband resurgences and resurrections, it sure looks like that the band that had made it big on "Making The Band" didn't wanna miss out on making it big again in this second decade of the 21st century. And with a revamped, refreshing sound here on their newest album while sticking true to some of the ingredients that molded boybands into the huge successes they were in the 90's and early 2000's, I'm confident the O-TOWN boys can make that dream come true! Prepare to be thoroughly entertained the moment the funky, retro-pop soul swing of the opening cut "Chasing After You" races into your ears! That retro-pop soul thing—a noticeable and distinctive trend on top of the trend of resurgent boybands that's become the bread and butter of success in today's pop music mainstream. It definitely works here, coupled with the hip flow and the boys' flashy, lay-it-all-out-and-get-right-down-to-it delivery of the intelligently-written lyrics—'with your whack T-shirt and high heels on' and the rap bits about Beyoncé, the girl wiggling her hips, being a quarterback's girlfriend and the line ' why you playin' hard to get when it's as good as it's gonna get? ' being personal highlights for me from the chorus and verses, respectively. What works even more? A couple of awesome dance remixes, of course! The production on the album original is already exhibits A+ excellence, but the pair of 'IZK' remixes I've included as a special bonus upgrade the song and bring it up to a whole new level! And now I wonder if these 'IZK' remixes are the only dance/techno remakes out there..... Meanwhile, the boys want to chase the girl's lonely heart away and dive right into her life on the album's epic, captivating second track, "Skydive"; a strong and very mature performance given here. It somehow seems fitting that a boyband returning from the past and reuniting in the present over a decade later would record a track entitled "Rewind". It holds additional symbolism in that the lyrics talk about them returning to a point in time when love was a drug and they couldn't get enough of it—young, carefree and on an emotional high, which is what you're feeling like when you'e in your late teens and early twenties. I'll tell you what I can't get enough of: this song's stellar production! Am I hearing some of that familiar thunderous QUEEN-'We Will Rock You' happening in the beat in the background, as subtle as it is? Complements the overall suspenseful intensity of the music quite nicely, I must say! An instant wave of summertime feeling swept through me the moment the sunny rock guitar sound of "Playing With Fire" ignited my music senses—a prime candidate for 'Dance Anthem Of The Summer' or, at the very least, an extremely catchy song that makes you feel young, happy and on top of the world again! Perhaps the boys were 'playing with fire' a second time when they confess their intentions on "Right Kind Of Wrong". Had a ton of fun with this one, too—from the slight retro-pop thing going on again (reminds me a bit of "Chasing After You", with the rap break and all) to listening to them going on about chasing after the girl who's all bad, yet it's the good type of bad (evidenced by their seductive words of ' c'mon, get sexy for me, come take it off ') for some serious spicing up. Then speaking of 'rewind', I uncovered a trio of jewels here that sparked so much satisfaction that I'm determined to give them the very-much-deserved replay treatment. First, there's the powerful and emotional ballad, "I Won't Lose"; you really can't lose yourself by adding this one to your playlist of adult contemporary favorites! Then there's "Sometimes Love Ain't Enough", which had brought to mind the Don Henley/Patty Smyth hit by a similar name—"Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough"—as, thematically, the lyrics, while not the same and put to a different (albeit beautiful) music arrangement, tell a similar touching and meaningful message. Like "I Won't Lose", this one's a perfect choice for the adult contemporary radio airwaves too! The third jewel quite possibly sparkles most of all: the mellow and bluesy acoustic guitar offering, "Buried Alive". There's something so breathtaking about both the boys' collective harmony and the final words delivered in the chorus: ' you're the hardest hand I've had to hold '). Lines and circles: they can be used to symbolize anything from Morse code to geometric blueprints to moves on a tic-tac-toe game, but I'd like to think of them as connecting the dots to success because this album by the same name is right on point:

1. Chasing After You
2. Skydive
3. Rewind
4. Playing With Fire
5. I Won't Lose
6. Right Kind Of Wrong
7. Buried Alive
8. Got To Go
9. Sometimes Love Ain't Enough
10. Lines & Circles

*****BONUS TRACKS*****

11. Chasing After You [IZK Extended Mixshow Remix]
12. Chasing After You [IZK Radio Remix]

No comments: