02/26/2001 at 01:00 AM EST
Having been created for television on the ABC reality series Making the Band, this prefab five had about as much musical credibility as the Monkees, the Partridge Family or Josie and the Pussycats. The brainchild of Lou Pearlman—who masterminded mega boy bands 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys—they were TV stars well before they were signed to a record deal in the first season's final episode. Which left Ashley Angel, 19, Erik-Michael Estrada, 21, Dan Miller, 20, Trevor Penick, 21, and Jacob Underwood, 20, with an awful lot to prove on their self-titled debut Would beating 1,800 Band hopefuls in auditions translate to legitimacy as a real group?
Well, the answer is a resounding no. In fact, O-Town (the O stands for Orlando, where the quintet was formed) gives one new appreciation for the well-seasoned harmonies and taut teen-pop songcraft of 'N Sync and Backstreet. The hormonal first single, "Liquid Dreams," is a cheap gimmick record that name-drops every young-male fantasy figure from Tyra Banks
to Jennifer Lopez
And though the O-Towners should be trying to distance themselves from the tube, they shamelessly plug MTV on the jinglelike "Sexiest Woman Alive." The album also includes the made-for-TV track "All for Love," originally performed on the series. Only the percolating funk-lite jam "Girl" really makes this disc more than an audio advertisement for O-Town's forthcoming second season of Making the Band.
Bottom Line: O brother!