No matter how crucial high fashion becomes in the success of an R&B singer, Boyz II Men still manage to get away with V-neck pullovers and black shoes with white socks. How do they do it?
By making decent music. Not extraordinary music, but music that hits the nail right on the head of what constitutes good R&B: flawless vocals, opulent harmonies, and easy, reliable melodies. Give or take a little charisma, the winning formula of The Temptations or The Four Tops lives on in Boyz II Men. And what's more, even after a decade of Grammys, breaking records (in 1992 they knocked Elvis off the longest-time-spent-at-number-one spot with 'End of the Road') and 60 million record sales, they're still together.
'Full Circle', their sixth album, is being hailed as a landmark in the Boyz II Men journey, reuniting the lads with their original, winning collaborators LA Reid, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. There's the usual trusty ballads with the cascading riffs and orgasmic harmonies, such as 'Howz About It' and 'Oh Well' (written by Jam and Lewis), that work very nicely in candlelit bathrooms late at night. The most supreme of these is 'The Colour of Love', a combination of deep, seductive beats and drifting, perfect vocals.
Despite the insistence on jumpers, there is obviously a drive to stave off the younger competition. As was the case with their last couple of albums, the signature ballads are punctuated by gutsy, hip hop-fuelled dancefloor tracks like 'Roll Wit Me' and 'Ain't A Thang Wrong' that tend to sound like your uncle trying too hard. They have managed to achieve some equilibrium between the slow and uptempo, though, because the opening song 'I Relax Your Mind', featuring Faith Evans, is delicious.
It's good, value-for-money stuff but whether this is going to get them any closer to their goal of knocking The Beatles off the world's greatest band spot... it's doubtful.