If the year was 1986, then 02 by power rock band Firehouse may have had a chance. But even by the genre's standards, this 2000 release is less than par -- most of the tracks lack the signifying quality and color to give a song an identity, rendering the set uninteresting. Such bands as Poison, Quiet Riot, and Enuff Z'Nuff come to mind when listening to 02; whammied guitars, big bass, fat kick drums, fret-busy solos, and signature '80s whiny singing abound. The lyrics -- mostly about chicks, parties, and unskinny bop -- are somewhat juvenile as well, and probably won't fly with the discerning listeners of 2000, who have grown accustomed to more complex subject matter and wording. Heck, even contemporary recordings that address sex and partying do so with more wit and flavor. 02, to its credit, does have some redeeming moments. "The Dark," about the digital age, features Fred Durst-like rap-singing by Firehouse frontman C.J. Snare coupled with an updated song style. The number gives the impression, through its lyrics, that these '80s rockers feel a bit dazed and somewhat contemptuous to be living in a world of MP3s and ISDN. Another stylistic departure comes by way of "I'm in Love This Time." The song provides decent rock fare with Southern influences in its rollicking rhythm parts and guitarist Bill Leverty's vocals. Firehouse, best known for the hit "Love of a Lifetime," serves up another worthy ballad this time around, "Loving You Is Paradise." The track loses the bludgeoning layers of rhythm guitar chords slamming down in unison, as found on many songs of the same ilk. "Loving You Is Paradise" is pleasant and would be comfortable on classic rock stations. Firehouse and hair band fans may want 02 to round out their collections. Just don't expect too much from it.
by Liana Jonas