Steps

Buzz

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    8
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Maybe it was merely a Steps overplay, between consistent singles and a new album each year, but it seemed like time for the group to embark on something new. Buzz avoids the pitfalls of repetition they had fallen into and, while it remains embedded in nostalgia for ABBA, the inspiration this time seems to derive from their own sound. They do in fact have their own sound, and it has revealed itself here, crystal clear. Buzz is arranged like clockwork, beginning with a disco dance track called "Stomp," and when they shout "Everybody clap your hands, get on up and dance," it is not a faulty request -- the album really does press the dancing buttons on your toes. There are very worthy, if trendy, pop bits like "It's the Way You Make Me Feel" and "Happy Go Lucky" (which may be an unconscious tribute to Britney Spears' work) as well as the title track, which is blissful. The male members play a better role than before, sticking to the background and only coming to the lead vocals when their voices will serve the role. There is a sense of risk-taking, of confidence, that pulls the album through the dance music, the electrical pop, and the couple of ballads. That's right, only a couple. They saved the best for last, "If You Believe," written and sung by group member Faye Tozer and co-written by Cyndi Lauper and Jan Pulsford. It is a great song because of great writing but, without the right singer, it wouldn't have pulled off the same height of emotion that it does. It is more than all right and, as lyrically simple as it is, it is all-encompassing. No offense to anyone in Steps, who are all energetic and talented, but they have a gem in the palm of their hand with Tozer -- for their sake, she's worth keeping.

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