Boyz II Men 

Sunday, December 5, at the Odeon.

Boyz II Men
  • Boyz II Men

By sales figures, at least, Boyz II Men still claim the title of the world's most successful R&B act, and it's undeniable that their doo-wop-inspired singles resuscitated harmony singing in urban music. But after reaching almost unimaginable commercial heights during the early '90s, the group has experienced a slow but steady slide. As teenage imitators proliferated, the Boyz became Men and struggled to straddle the fence between the cutting-edge beats the charts demanded and their own tamer, adult contemporary proclivities.

Throwback, the covers album released earlier this year, seemed to confirm the latter had won out: its sometimes excruciatingly faithful versions of '70s and '80s soul standards (The Dazz Band's "Let It Whip", Hall & Oates' "Sara Smile") sounded geared towards the newest generation of thirty- and fortysomething oldies fans. The group's first independent release, as well as their first as a trio (following the retirement of singer Michael McCary), it continued the string of diminishing chart returns. Yet the disc -- especially DeBarge's "Time Will Reveal," a throwback to the Boyz' a capella heyday -- showed that even minus one voice, those silky-smooth harmonies should keep the "End of the Road" a long way off.

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