To set itself apart from the girl-group pack, Blaque touts itself as edgy and experimental (the name is an acronym for the unbearably awkward phrase “Believing in Life and Achieving a Quest for Unity in Everything”). And the group’s eponymous debut (Sony) features such experiments as “I Do,” a song that starts as a syrupy mid-tempo R&B number and then explodes with a classic finger-snapping Motown chorus.
Their quirky R. Kelly-produced single “808,” named after the drum machine that provided the rhythms for many early hip-hop records, is a brilliant example of pop minimalism for the way its sparsely arranged beats suggest an alternative rhythm that is much faster than the song’s actual tempo.
But aside from these fresh takes, Blaque fails to deliver on its cutting-edge promises and instead serves up an album that is dully status quo. There’s a routine ballad written by Mariah Carey (“Don’t Go Looking for Love”), yet another cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and a duet with ‘N Sync, in which the milquetoast heartthrobs sing the unintentionally humorous lines: “Do you like my Tims/ my baggy jeans/ my thug appeal.” Like the bubble wrap the act sports on the cover, Blaque is intriguing on the surface, but ultimately just designed to pop.