Likes: Can’t Get Enough, Agree on Goodbye, Let Go of My Heart, Take the Long Way Home
Dislikes: Microphone, Ayo
Overall: Nice return; good pop/R&B album. Doesn’t try too hard to be current & isn’t too stuck in the past.
When you’re a “boy band” from the late 1990’s that was formulated to make a quick buck and fizzle out, some might say it’s risky business releasing an album after a 13-year hiatus. The reality, however, is that 98 Degrees still has it and the groups that set your heart ablaze and made your adolescence stay with you. Which is why after all this time, now adult women are willing to open their wallets and pay to see 98 Degrees on “The Package Tour” with Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block (who had a successful tour with the Backstreet Boys).
Because of their soulful influence and tight, classic harmonies, many argued 98 Degrees was vocally the best group of their era. Unfortunately, the new “2.0” doesn’t display this. The vocals are just as soft and smooth as before, but with the harmonies existing merely as support, the equilibrium between lead singer Nick Lachey and the other members is off. The feature of an acoustic version of the prior hit “Invisible Man” is the most true to the group’s signature sound. Speaking of signature sounds, usually when an artist has been around for a while or has been on a long break, the record label either relies too heavily on the old bag or tries to “update” the artist. Both extremes can turn out badly. In a rare case, “2.0” is a happy medium. After the poorly-written, cheesy, pointless EDM (electronic dance music) happy “Microphone,” all is well. Splashes of dub-step are matched with more traditional pop, R&B (love the Michael Jackson realness on “Can’t Get Enough”) and even hip-hop (“No Part of You”). Lyrically, for every shallow moment (ex. Girls Night Out) there’s an alternative (“Let Go of My Heart”). When all's said and done, I really enjoyed “2.0” and was pleasantly surprised. Welcome back, 98 Degrees.