Paul Wong
two and a half stars

Full Moon

Atlantic Records

In this catty-cat world of young, one-named R&ampB divas, what does a girl have to do to prove her maturity? Well, if getting secretly married and being in your first trimester aren”t enough, how about releasing a new album? Titled Full Moon, a reference to her emerging womanhood and newfound personal assurance, Brandy tries to prove just that.

The predictability level on Full Moon is as high as ever. The album”s mantra of “if it ain”t broke, don”t fix it” has been applied liberally throughout the 17 tracks. It”s nothing we haven”t heard before from the Moe-ster. Heavily producer-driven, the album follows the template that catapulted her sophomore album Never Say Never to multi-platinum status. The tradition (or condition) continues on her junior outing.

Full Moon”s first quarter exhibits the same ole Jerkins production we”ve heard time and time before, just slightly altered (or “updated”) and equipped with the latest in electronic blips and bleeps. Did somebody die and name Brandy and her team the new rulers of the Vocoder-box? I don”t know if I”m listening to the latest Blackstreet cut or the resurrection of Roger Troutman. The disc”s last quarter treads aimlessly with track after track of five-minute-syrup-ballads in the style of Diane “By-the-Numbers” Warren.

The sound of her third album is overwhelmingly Darkchild, so much so that it”s hard to differentiate Brandy from her producer they”re virtually hip-to-hip on this album, with Jerkins appearing vocally on almost every track. Jerkins is obviously vying to be the next Jimmy & Terry to Brandy”s Janet.

Moon”s guaranteed mainstream club play, especially with the preprogrammed radio-ready singles “What About Us?” and “I Thought.” TRL kids will cream over “All In Me” and “Can We.” Lyrically, they”re the same topics we”ve all heard before cheating boyfriends, love, lying, love, arguments and love, love, love.

Mainstream R&ampB music is pretty typical and this just shows it. Almost every song on Full Moon sounds reminiscent of her previous effort. That”s the state of mainstream pop music in 2002: Don”t deviate too far from the sound that garnered your initial success and you”ll be guaranteed prosperity. After all, music video outlets, A&ampRs and urban radio programmers don”t want grand artistic musical statements if it will curb record sales: Just give us the same tired, interchangeable Timbaland/Jerkins drum-heavy production and we”ll give you maximum airplay. There are few standout cuts here and nothing really memorable. Full Moon breezily cruises by as each of the album”s future videos and singles come and subsequently leave the Billboard charts. Yeah, we know it”ll be another hit, another platinum plaque for the Moe-ster, but will this album go down on any “Best of the Decade” lists? Highly unlikely.

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