Triple Image

Celebrate

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    5
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Triple Image is the latest project from Johnny Wright's WIRE imprint, built from the producer's successes with first wave teen pop acts like Backstreet Boys. Things have changed considerably since Backstreet's mid-'90s emergence -- it's a 'tweener's world today, and Triple Image is ready for its close-up. Problem is, sisters Bridgett, Brittney, and Brianna are interchangeable with one another, their sugary vocals awash in a blur of (adult) supporting harmony and busy arrangements. When one of them does take the mic, as in the verses to a weak reworking of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," the album borders on energetic karaoke. The girls are more successful with their version of the New Edition classic "Cool It Now." Its busy, billowy, cotton candy arrangement can't match the original's swing. But at least TI sound like they're having fun. That energy carries over to the title track, which is the album's strongest moment. Sure, the raps are impossibly clunky. But you can't deny the mastermind shout-outs ("So we're keepin' it real with the dreams in sight/With a little help from my man Johnny Wright!"), and the track's cardboard Jackson 5 grooves are enjoyable in a silly-string sort of way. Now, Triple Image is not out to legitimize the "tween" pop world. It's a universe driven by immediacy, where superficiality is more successful than roots. After all, the market moves on with the arrival of middle school. Even so, Celebrate's hooks peter out considerably after the first few jams. Besides the cute Stevie Brock duet, "Boy Next Door," and the sassy "None of Your Business," the majority of the album smothers Triple Image's natural spunk in weakly-realized formulae. This is typified by "Never Gonna Stop." What could have been an energizing anthem is marred by a painful vocal hook. "Never gonna stop/Never gonna stop stop stop/Gotta take it to the top top/Gotta kick it 'til I drop drop"? With all of Wright's success, it's disappointing that Triple Image's debut dries up so quickly.

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