Busted [2002]

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Busted's eponymous debut made a pretty big splash in the trio's native U.K., where its next-generation sound found immediate favor with kids stuck in a growth spurt between Boyzone and blink-182 allegiances. Principals Mattie Jay, James Bourne, and Charlie Simpson slide smoothly between material like "Psycho Girl" and "Losing You" -- dull teen pop ballads with the sickeningly overwrought vocals typical of the genre -- and relatively more creative stuff that punches up the formula with pop-ternative production and smirking, yet still squeaky clean lyrical witticisms. At best (lead single "What I Go to School For"; the mindless future frolic of "Year 3000") it's BBMak with better cheekbones; at worst, Busted is a neutered Sum 41. Sure, "Crash and Burn" is stippled with muted electric guitar riffs and an amplified, almost-the-real-thing drum machine. But its spurned suitor sob story ("I asked you to dance at the disco/BUT YOU SAID NO!") is right out of the pop star handbook. At least those guys in Sum 41 rhymed "El NiƱo" with "drinking in the back of an El Camino". This is the biggest problem with Busted. While they sing about undressing foxy schoolteachers, and insult rivals for trying to look like James Van Der Beek, the outrageousness seems disingenuous given how much of their debut sounds like Westlife warmed over.

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