Public Announcement

Don't Hold Back

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As one-time support singers for R. Kelly, the Chicago quartet Public Announcement were afforded serious consideration strictly on the basis of their former affiliation with the king of bump-and-grind slow jams. Their debut album in 1998 All Work, No Play was a mild success on the strength of the not-so-subtle single "Body Bumpin'." Their sophomore release is a peculiar combination of soft-spoken ballads and over-the-top bedroom banter. PA are not particularly talented songwriters, nor are their voices tremendously refined, yet they pull off their style through an intangible presence and sense of vibe (something their more talented former partner has also patented). The beg-and-plead misogyny of tracks like "Papi" and "Rithickulous" are horrid rip-offs of Sisqo's already horrendous "Thong Song," but they are countered by the more captivating storylines of "Jane Doe" and "Slow Dance." PA is unable to duplicate the inner-city melodrama of R. Kelly's work, but there are inviting elements to the album. Furthermore, some tracks seem to borrow their plotlines from a Jerry Springer episode; although seemingly reprehensible, they manage to entertain somehow. In the end, there is nothing here that breaks out of the stale mold that is contemporary R&B, but the boys with the Windy City pipes do handle the formula par excellence.

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