Prymary Colorz

If You Only Knew

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Most boy bands have roots that go back no further than the boardroom in which they were assembled. Not so with Prymary Colorz; most of its members have known each other for years. But the group's debut album suggests that this isn't enough to overcome the challenges that stand between even gifted performers and complete artistic achievement in this style. The singing is soulful and solid throughout If You Only Knew, that much is clear. Though each member of the group is a forceful soloist, much of the most impressive stuff occurs in the background; check out the soaring and sophisticated backup on "That's Why God Made the Moon," on which the vocal parts constantly morph, with minimal repetition, or "Heavenly Love, another power ballad beefed up by genuinely amazing harmonies. The problem is with the genre, not the stars: Conventions are rigid, with instrumental, arrangement, rhythmic, and other options limited by the industry's notions of what stands the best chance of selling. Artists can excel, but only within these restrictions. Thus, for example, a number of these cuts race through big crescendos that end with all the instruments suddenly hitting the brakes and one or more of the singers intoning the final line a cappella. The first time someone did that, it was probably exciting and a little risky -- but this is far from the first time; listeners have learned to hear these finales coming from a mile away. This, of course, is the point, as long as listeners are more likely to shell out for music that never springs any surprises. By this measure, If You Only Knew is a resounding -- and dispiriting -- triumph. It packs plenty of talent but, like Gertrude Stein's Oakland, there isn't much there there.

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