J.C. Chasez

Schizophrenic (Jive)

You have to feel for J.C. Chasez. He's watched 'N Sync bandmate Justin Timberlake beat him to all the important career milestones: boffing Britney, going solo, groping a Jackson on national TV. But Chasez has more than just halftime hijinks on his mind, and the proof's in this collection, which is giddily adventurous enough to make Justin seem like Sting.

The first clue that J.C.'s solo career was going somewhere came on the Drumline soundtrack. "Blowin' Me Up (With Her Love)" out-Justined Justin via a flawless 21st-century cloning of George Michael. Chasez inevitably revisits those plastic soul roots on Schizophrenic, with mixed success -- "Build My World" is a gooey teen ballad with enough saccharin to off a labful of rats -- but more often, and more interestingly, the album lives up to its title. "100 Ways" mashes genres into a twanging, rapping, rocking mess of a single that's irresistible for its sheer chutzpah, while the techno-metal stomper "A.D.I.D.A.S." gives an old joke some New Orderish juice.

Sure, such crazed attempts at genre-hopping are time-honored bids for credibility by a young artist desperate to show he can do it all. It just never feels that way. The multiple '80s references sprinkled throughout aren't merely trendy -- they make sense; it's been about that long since a star this big sounded like he was having this much fun.