No Strings Attached
Candy pop heartthrobs 'N Sync, raking in cash by the truckload, shed some of their squeaky clean Mickey Mouse image in 1999. Amid battling lawyers, they broke away from their manager, broke away from their label, and after all that came up with No Strings Attached.
Aiming to get down with their newfound freedom, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, and Chris Kirkpatrick's search for street cred here proves plenty elusive.
While mimicking African American vocal styles on party-hearty tracks like "Bringin' Da Noise," or "Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)," the post-Fab five sound caught up and contrived.
And while they're riding bigger beats and trying desperately to take on a tougher edge, 'N Sync can't escape the massive production that powers this set from start to finish. It's there in the propulsive percussion of the lead single "Bye Bye Bye," and it's there in the layers of synthesizers that suck any semblance of soul from the majority of other songs.
'N Sync could still sell their quota of a zillion or so albums, while maintaining an occasional shred of integrity. But it's not happening. The only time where things actually ring true are during the ballads, especially the Richard Marx-penned "This I Promise You" and the harmony-filled a capella finale "I Thought She Knew."