11 years after they disbanded, O-Town have reunited and are back with their first studio album since 2002’s O2. Originally a five-piece the band were formed on the first season of ABC reality TV show Making The Band. Their debut album O-Town was released in 2001 and sold over a million copies in the US. Unfortunately follow-up O2 didn’t match that album’s success and the band went their separate ways. Now reunited as a four-piece without original member Ashley Parker Angel, O-Town are back with their third studio album Lines & Circles.
Of all the bands to reunite we never expected an O-Town comeback and with the group enjoying only fleeting success the first time round, it begs the question if there’s a market for them. Without a doubt the group are good singers with each possessing impressive vocal abilities but do they stand out from the pack all these years on? Lines & Circles doesn’t fully answer that question as the album is a collection of different sounds that tries to cater to everyone. The sound may be more mature than the first time round but there’s still that commercial pop edge that made the group a hit the first time round.
Lines & Circles opens with the uptempo Chasin’ After You which actually could have been a song from one of their previous albums. The sound is a little dated but it makes you pay attention to see what else the band has to offer. Lead single Skydive veers a little too far into Westlife territory for our liking and it’s clear the group want to be respected as vocalists second time round.
One of the problems with Lines & Circles is that it doesn’t really fit into the modern pop landscape. There are moments that come close such as the beat-heavy Rewind the punchy Playing With Fire which makes a bold grab for One Direction’s radio-friendly sound.
The album is actually at its best when the group leaves the boyband part of their history behind and focuses on their vocals. I Won’t Lose strips everything back putting the vocals at the fore and it’s one of the best moments on the record. Buried Alive similarly has that stripped-down and raw quality that hints at what the record could have been like if they’d not tried to cater to everyone.
Songs such as Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough and Lines & Circles are a little too generic to really stand out. The former sounds like a not quite as good version of the band’s signature hit All Or Nothing. Right Kind Of Wrong tries to appeal to Pharrell fans but it just doesn’t feel that authentic for the group.
Whilst Lines & Circles certainly isn’t a disaster it just fails to leave much of a lasting impression. The songs here could be sung by pretty much any boyband in the charts at the moment. O-Town need to decide what kind of band they want to be and what sound they’re aiming for. By covering every base they’ve lost their identity somewhere in the mix.