by: Boyz II Men

In the liner notes for Collide, Boyz II Men's first album since 2011's Twenty, the trio say their approach was "sing whatever you like," "sing whatever feels right," a move they see as "risky after many years of the same old thing." More revealing, they confess that they had "lost the joy" and were too concerned with airplay and sales. While those words seem like they should be written in support of an album involving a great deal of creative self-control, Collide was made with at least three dozen songwriters and producers. In fact, Nathan, Shawn, and Wanya produced only the vocals and did none of the writing -- surprising, given the amount of effort they put forth for Twenty. This is easily the group's most scattered album, as it offers various shades of ballads, some throwbacks, oddly escapist adult alternative fare, and even anthemic rockers. The undeniably pleasing moments are led by "Don't Stop" -- a natural and loose disco groove -- while "Believe Us," filled with appealingly dark undercurrents, wouldn't be out of place on commercial radio stations and does not resemble a compromise. The men definitely appear to have enjoyed making this. Hopefully they can get back to writing for themselves and leaning on fewer producers, too. ~ Andy Kellman

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