09/15/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
The pop group 98° is no 'N Sync and Nick Lachey
is no Justin Timberlake
. On his solo debut Lachey, the former 98° heartthrob, doesn't come close to touching Timberlake's excellent Justified
. At 29, Lachey seems to be stuck in boy-band mode on most of these bland R&B-laced pop numbers. Indeed, tracks like the bubblegum-flavored "Let Go" simply sound like 98° reheated. Lachey, who married his longtime sweetheart Jessica Simpson
last October, sings like a lovestruck newlywed on treacly ballads such as "Edge of Eternity," one of eight songs he cowrote, and the wedding-ready "This I Swear": "I will love you until forever/Until death do us part we'll be together." At least he can take comfort in the fact that his album is still better than Simpson's new CD.
BOTTOM LINE: Shallow SoulO