98° and Rising

by: 98°

Really, 98° is a great idea for a teen-pop band: take an attractive boy band in the vein of Take That or N'Sync and have them sing Boyz II Men crossed with the Backstreet Boys. 98° followed this formula on their eponymous debut and were more or less successful. However, they've mastered the sound on their second record, 98° and Rising. Like any teen-pop with chart aspirations, 98° and Rising is far from a perfect album, as it alternates sure-fire hits with filler cut from the same mold, but that should be expected. What's nice is that songs like "The Hardest Thing" and "True to Your Heart" are well-crafted radio singles, with memorable hooks and excellent production. That same production -- which makes the ballads smoove and the dance-pop infectious -- carries weaker moments of the record, but at the end of the day, it's the singles that make 98° and Rising entertaining. And for many fans, that will be quite enough indeed. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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