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Ruff Endz, Someone to Love You (Epic)
If you are a Soul fan go straight to track 8 and enjoy one of 2002's mid-tempo gems, "Sure Thing". Well sung and with a sinuous arrangement this song is already on its way to rare groove classic status. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is R&B-by-numbers rubbish -- crass, deeply cynical and occasionally, and (I think) unintentionally, hilarious. The duo are superior vocalists. The production is fine. The tunes are largely dull with lyrics as inept as any I have come across in a genre hardly bursting at the seams with sparkle and wit. Masochists and those with a mordant sense of humour will particularly relish "Threesome". This puerile tale of getting two women into bed is sung in post Boyz2Men maudlin-pleading style and is undoubtedly the silliest "love" song ever recorded. As for the rest, well, one track is called "Cars, Money, Cars, Clothes" and is every bit as moronic as that banal list would suggest. Part of me vainly hopes that there is a parodic intent in all of these stale cliches. Sadly. Sales figures, Billboard charts and MTV have convinced me otherwise. If you want this sort of thing, others have done it already and with much greater panache. Yet, "Sure Thing" shows that there is real talent here. What Ruff Endz (and the R&B scene in general, need, given the unlikelihood of a shift in sensibilities, is a decent songwriter. Disappointing.