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Evolution [Bonus CD] [Bonus Tracks] *
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  • The fourth album from 2008 X Factor runner-up JLS, 2012's Evolution features more of the British boy band's slick, dance-oriented R&B. This time, JLS have teamed up with big-name producers Mr. Bangladesh (Usher, T-Pain) and Rodney Jerkins (Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber). The result is a synth-heavy album that evinces a kind of updated take on the '90s new jack swing influence that first inspired the group. JLS' heart is in the right place, delivering material that mixes hip-hop production with an ear to pop songwriting … la bands like Tony! Toni! Ton‚! and Bell Biv DeVoe. Cuts like the dirty leadoff song "Dessert" and the would-be club anthem "Hottest Girl in the World" are radio-ready tracks built around percussive vocal samples. A few also feature some cheeky lyrical turns of phrase (like "Girl, you're looking like a menu/Everything on you looks good to me" on "Dessert," and replacing the word "boyfriend" with "toyfriend" on "Hottest Girl"). JLS also deliver some straightforward dance-pop tracks, like the Maroon 5-esque "Hold Me Down" and the romantic midtempo ballad "Don't Know That," which brings to mind the classic R&B sound of Boyz II Men and Jodeci. ~ Matt Collar
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