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*NSYNC : Celebrity

They may be getting defensive about fame, but at least the SYNC have the tunes to back up their moaning...

*NSYNC : Celebrity

8 / 10 Despite Joey being fat, Lance boss-eyed and Chris having once sported a pineapple-shaped hairdo, *NSYNC are undoubtedly one of the best teen pop groups America has ever given us. They've overcome their considerable physical limitations in that good ol' fashioned US way -through hyper-drilled choreography, superb live shows and brilliant songs; in short, a level of professionalism which no British band could ever hope to match. The SYNC's last album, 2000's 'No Strings Attached', raised the pop stakes with its sustained musical brilliance and quite rightly became the fastest selling album of all time.



First, the good news: 'Celebrity' is pretty damn fine too. Though there are more dodgy ballads than on 'No Strings Attached', a clutch of machine-tooled Swedish pop numbers, bristling with computer voices ('The Game Is Over'), false beginnings ('Tell Me, Tell Me... Baby') and the inevitable planet-sized choruses (all of them) don't disappoint. An uncharacteristically wistful ballad from Kelis producers The Neptunes suits Justin's magnificent voice down to the ground and even Rodney Jerkins proves that he hasn't completely lost it with his juddering production on the title track. There are even a couple of sprightly investigations into UK garage (which the boys churlishly call 'Two-Step') on the gooey 'The Two Of Us' and the harder 'Up Against The Wall'. As for the other ballads, the Stevie Wonder-featuring 'Something Like You' should have been thrown in the bin, but 'Gone' is a decent tearjerker for the terminally sappy.



The bad news is that 'Celebrity' definitely shows signs of that discontent that all boyband members begin to feel after a while, and it's this which might well put some fans off. 'Pop' is ridiculously defensive coming from a band who never set out to woo the critics, while 'Celebrity' and 'Just Don't Tell Me That' are both paranoid songs about women who only seem to want them for their fame. Considering that most people only want to become famous in the first place so they can increase their pulling chances, it seems a bit off to turn round and moan about it - especially since Justin is dating Britney anyway (who he calls 'Pinky', according to the album sleeve credits). But then, most pop stars are moaning, confused gits. At least *NSYNC have got the tunes to make up for it.



Alex Needham

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