Boyz II Men | Twenty

Boyz II Men - Twenty

Boyz II Men | Twenty
by Brent Faulkner

Veteran male R&B group Boyz II Men celebrate twenty years in the
game with their most recent studio album appropriately titled Twenty.
Twenty is a double-disc effort, comprised of twenty three tracks; the
first disc is new material while the second disc is re-recordings of the
groups biggest hits. Overall, the two-disc set is more than what fans
might ask for, particularly the re-recorded disc, but showcases that the
pre-eminent, best selling R&B group are still in top-notch form
twenty years later. While none of the effort seeks to reinvent the
group, the material is fitting and solid.

Disc one, the disc of newly penned originals opens a bit clunky with
“Believe,” a cut with a built in interlude and perhaps too much of a
nonchalant feel. It works ultimately, but “Believe” feels like more of a
warm-up as opposed to ‘the main course.’ “So Amazing” is much more
polished, graced with a lush adult contemporary R&B sound. The
harmonized vocals, still as piercing as always, sound superb on the
refrain. The biggest quibble? Length, with the cut approaching the five
minute mark. Third cut “Put Some Music On” is less sensational than “So
Amazing,” but still solid. The minimalist ideas explored within the
production are solid, even if the over-simplicity somewhat gives off an
air of ‘cheap’ production work. The cut could’ve benefited from extra
‘oomph’ certainly.

“Slowly” and the proceeding Charlie Wilson featuring “More Than You’ll
Ever Know” help to pick up the momentous pace of the effort. “Slowly”
feels authentic from the first note yielding a superb sensualness and
lushness. “More Than You’ll Ever Know” may not be ‘the second coming,’
but it is a solid cut with superb vocal arrangement and vocal
production. Overall, “More Than You’ll Ever Know” shows adult R&B
at its best, with it coupling of a sound harmonic progression and
overall polished artistic performance that transcends through the studio
recording. “I Shoulda Lied” is an ‘A-’ cut, smartly accelerating the
tempo and yielding another sound Babyface cut. “I Shoulda Lied” only
comes off slightly less alluring than the best cuts.

“Benefit of A Fool” features nice hip, old-school production work
contributed by Da Internz. The refrain is catchy, yet simple and the
vocal harmonies are magnificent. “Refuse to Be the Reason” follows-up
superbly with a contrasting, low-key vibe. As always, there is a
sensualness captivated by these old-school vets that so many younger
R&B artists wish they could capture. The vocal ad libs here are a
clear high point. “One More Dance” and “Will You Be There” deliver
solid punches, though the penultimate first disc cut “Flow” allows for
the ‘Boys’ to deliver a more modern, hip-hop oriented performance. An
understated sensual vibe on the verses is a selling point. “One Up For
Love” delivers more of a pop-rock vibe. While it is less satisfying
than the very best, it ends the first disc solidly.

The second disc is more of a ‘highlights’ disc, finding Boyz II Men
running down the hits that made them famous. “Motownphilly” and “On
Bended Knee” are delivered strongly to open the second disc. Neither
hit as heavy as the original, but both are solid. “Four Seasons of
Loneliness” and “Water Runs Dry” are pleasant, though neither are newly
‘reinvented’ or are newly ‘profound.’ “A Song For Mama” is pure and
soulful while “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” yields
harmonies that sound as good as ever. “I’ll Make Love To You” is more
invigorating than the majority of re-recordings, though “End of the
Road” is the best reinterpretation by all means with Boyz II Men keeping
their signature vocal riffs intact. “Not Like You,” parenthesized as a
‘new bonus classic,’ closes the effort both pleasantly and enjoyably.

Overall, Twenty does not tread any new ground, but it does deliver Boyz
II Men’s first album of original material in years. Boyz II Men also
prove they are NOT stodgy, washed up veterans, but still relevant,
talented musicians. Maybe a ninety minute set is overwrought to
celebrate twenty years, but overall, the album is well thought out and
well crafted.

Brent Faulkner
The Urban Music Scene

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