The Osmonds

I Can't Get There Without You

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The Osmonds defy a number of preconceptions. Most casual observers assume they've retired to the oldies circuit, and when they do reunite, they always bring their biggest star Donny along for the ride. This is not true. Donny broke away from his brothers when he was at his teen-idol peak and they continued without him, constantly playing gigs for over five decades and rarely recording new material. Which makes the 2012 release of Can't Get There Without You something of a big deal. As their first album of new material in nearly 30 years -- the last being 1984's One Way Rider -- Can't Get There Without You almost plays like a summation of middle of the road sounds of the past three decades, often winding up sounding like a latter-day Bee Gees attempting to make a U2 album. Sometimes, they indulge themselves in a throwback -- a nicely executed cover of America's "I Need You" -- and sometimes they almost get close to the present, as when they mimic Backstreet Boys harmonies on "Take Me Home." Often, the proceedings are just a bit more sober than the Osmonds' bubblegum rep suggestions. That doesn't necessarily mean the music is weighty, but rather that it's portentous, everything crawling along with heavy-footed deliberation. The Osmonds can overplay this card -- when they rock on "Getcha Goin' My Way" it's embarrassing, and "Break Your Fall" collapses upon its own solemnity -- but there are times where the melodies soar, and what works best are the melodies: at their best, they are almost smooth and insistent enough to rival the best album tracks of Donny Osmond's wannabe George Michael comeback of the early '90s.

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