The journey from boy band member to serious credible artiste is a tough one. Arguably, only three people have pulled it off in recent times – George Michael, Robbie Williams and Justin Timberlake. But for every George, there’s an Andrew Ridgeley, and for every Robbie there’s a Gary Barlow. So there’s a lot riding on N-Sync‘s JC Chasez’s first solo album, especially as he was mainly viewed in his former band as playing second fiddle to Timberlake.
Firstly, Chasez has obviously looked at Timberlake’s Justified album and used that as his template. He’s roped in some credible producers (including Basement Jaxx on one track, paying him back for his appearance on Plug It In), and the music is a winning mix of soul, funk and pop. There’s also some worship of a particular ’80s icon going on here – but where Timberlake took Michael Jackson as inspiration, Chasez is obviously a huge Prince fan.
Several songs here are almost facsimiles of mid-period Prince, in particular the funky rhythms of 100 Ways. The clipped soul of the opening Some Girls (Dance With Women) is also guaranteed to get people moving, and the Jaxx collaboration of Shake It could almost be a new club anthem.
There’s just one problem with this Prince worship though, and that’s the blatantly sexual lyrics. Whereas The Purple One had the chutzpah to get away with some ridiculously filthy lyrics, Chasez just comes across as a schoolboy on heat in serious need of a cold shower. All Day Long I Dream About Sex is as embarrassing as the title would suggest, and the aforementioned Some Girls hears Chasez telling us how we “might have to peel me off the ceiling, I’m like a soda that’s been shaken up, boom”. Things reach a nadir in One Night Stand with the line, “‘Cause when I’m all alone, I lay awake and masturbate.” Thanks for that, JC.
There is some terrific stuff here though, and not all of it will appeal to the N-Sync generation (although Something Special tips a cheeky nod and wink to Timberlake’s masterful Like I Love You). The album title reflects the diverse and varied nature of the songs here. Dear Goodbye is a heartfelt ballad that stays just on the right side of drippiness, and there’s even some nods to hard(ish) rock in If You Were My Girl. 100 Ways, despite its obvious debt to Prince, is one of the best songs on here and Blowin’ Me Up With Her Love is perfect pop, albeit with some very dirty sounding funk riffs thrown in.
Schizophrenic is a fine solo album from Chasez, that with some editing, could have been even better. Some tracks have filler written all over them, and 17 songs makes the album drag on for far too long. However, while he may not be replicating Timberlake’s success just yet, he’s certainly no Jason Orange. Just keep him away from Janet Jackson, goodness knows what he’d end up doing with her…