It Was All a Dream

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As Puff Daddy's entry into the teen-pop sweepstakes, Dream can't help but feel a little contrived -- that's what they are, after all. Still, there's a weird sense of calculation on the album, from the tinted cover shot of the girls wearing Puff's clothing line to the sketches that pepper the album to the deliberately sexy grooves that anchor the album. These girls are singing material that is in the teen pop formula, yet it's tarted up just a little bit too much -- it's closer to the sexiness of All Saints and TLC than the teasing of Britney and Christina. Nevertheless, it is true that Puff can afford first-rate songwriters and producers, and much of the record (particularly the single "He Loves U Not") sounds good, even if it runs on a bit too long, starting to drift toward the end. Also, there's the basic problem that Dream isn't particularly charismatic -- their voices are serviceable, and, embedded in this professional production, the record can sound alluring, but they never really wind up establishing identities of their own. Not that they're really supposed to -- part of teen pop's appeal is that its knowingly generic, but what separates the good from the great is personality, which is lacking on the otherwise adequate It Was All a Dream.

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