Music

[R&B]

Ne-Yo’s latest lacks a personality of its own

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Ben Westhoff

The fourth album from Crisco-smooth R&B crooner Ne-Yo, Libra Scale, is a concept work involving three garbagemen who are offered super powers; the hitch is that they’re never allowed to fall in love. It’s a morality tale of sorts involving something called a Libra Scale (too complicated to explain here) and musings on the values of money, power and fame. Why the plot for a mainstream R&B album should be so complicated is not clear, nor is there any payoff from trying to make sense of it all.

The Details

Ne-Yo
two stars

This would be forgivable if the music stood on its own … but it doesn’t. Previous albums from the former Las Vegan had first-rate production, but this one sounds like something you’ve heard before. In fact, it apes Michael Jackson so strongly, Bubbles the Chimp should be getting royalties. “Cause I Said So” is the most obvious rip-off, a slightly-risqué jam about the faddy topic of fetish bedroom sex, complete with MJ-style “ahhs.” Other lines sound like Justin Timberlake lite (“It’s a beautiful day/It’s going to be a beautiful night”) and some aren’t even that clever, like the beguiling come-on in “Telekinesis”: “Girl have you ever had someone take the time/To sex your body/But also sex your mind?”

Beyond that, the album features a couple of decent singles, “Beautiful Monster” and “One in a Million,” that are reminiscent of his superior previous effort, Year of the Gentleman. Mostly, however, Libra Scale is a confusing, derivative mess that will make you go bananas.

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