“Evolution is the return of R&B,” boasts the JLS star Oritsé Williams, about their fourth long-player.
Well, who better to give a hearty boost to an oversubscribed genre than some British talent-show runners-up?
The likeable quartet have proven resiliently popular since their 2008 X Factor launch, but watching the younger pretenders One Direction become huge across the pond must have hurt. Now, the band have turned to harsh, urban beats, from several renowned US producers.
Bangladesh – fresh from work with Rihanna and Nicki Minaj – sets the tone with the unwittingly comical Dessert, an aggressively seductive nod to Snoop Dogg’s Drop it Like it’s Hot.
The R&B legend Rodney Jerkins helms two of the more successful cuts, Hold Me Down and Don’t Know That, which make smarter, smoother use of their well-honed harmonies.
Elsewhere, the incessantly jarring, bullet-like beats sit uneasily with the boys’ unconvincing attempts at machismo, and Evolution often sounds like awkward teenagers warbling Chris Brown covers at the school talent show.
Growing up doesn’t have to involve getting nasty, guys.