Boyz II Men began their career before most students on campus were born. After 23 years in the music business, their R&B style hasn’t completely shifted into other genres, like some older acts often do. They’ve tried to stick to their successful roots, and this is especially evident in their new album, “Collide.”
This album differs from those in the past by offering a different sound for each song. Rather than sticking to soulful rhythms and homogenous tempos, the songs on the album appeal to several tastes. “Don’t Stop” is reminiscent of an early 2000s pop ballad, while “As Long as I’m With You” takes the listener to Hawaii with its background ukulele.
The group sticks to their strengths and incorporates somewhat complicated harmonies into the songs. However, it sometimes sounds a bit like a futuristic attempt at being pop-like while still retaining a soulful side.
The song “Believe Us” has an almost outer-space feel to it, with what sounds like aliens singing in the background and a computerized instrument intermingling. There’s also a heavy autotune influence, and heavy is an understatement.
Each song has that telltale plastic sound, similar to what T Payne tries to do. This is disappointing because the natural voices of the men in the group are smooth and complementary. Past albums tended to stay away from the digitized assistance, which would have worked just as well on the new album.
Former hits of the group, especially “I’ll Make Love to You,” relied heavily on interwoven harmonies and lyrical movement. Again, there was limited usage of technology to enhance the sound.
From a lyrical standpoint, the new album isn’t full of life-changing poems, but it tends to stay away from the more sexualized lyrics. “Collide” has more love songs, applicable to sing at a significant other, rather than to woo someone into taking their clothes off.
This album also has a steady stream of lyrics that correspond to losing someone. The track Although upbeat, the track “Already Gone” mourns the loss of an important someone.
The group seems to be stuck in limbo between progressing into a pop-era while still retaining the original ballad quality that they’re known for. Some tunes, such as “So What,” have a strong piano influence and a soulful message, but even it has moments of pop-like background sound and “deep” lyrics about not letting someone go from the bed.
Overall, the album has a lot going on, and it’s not anything terrible. Fans of the group will find new hits that are reminiscent of the glory days of the nineties, but will also discover a new sound that sometimes comes across as trying too hard. It all works together in an efficient manner, from the wannabe-reggae “As Long As I’m With You” to the emotional “Diamond Eyes.”
BoyzIIMen have aged gracefully and still have been able to retain their sound, which is a rare occurrence but enjoyable nonetheless.