Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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***

JC CHASEZ
Schizophrenic
Jive

'N Sync's other lead singer takes on Justin Timberlake, acts scared

Always a little too shy offstage and a little too macho on-, 'N Sync second banana JC Chasez has reason to feel nervous about his solo debut. Long overshadowed by male ingénue Justin Timberlake, the 27-year-old Chasez must have been as surprised as everyone else when the 22-year-old Timberlake's Justified proved not just a creditable breakaway but a touchstone of hip R&B.

None of Timberlake's sly charm for Chasez, though--he's on the hunt for some serious pussy. Eight of the first 10 tracks are sex-obsessed, with three promising to "love you all night strong." In an age of medical miracles, he probably can, too, but only guys who entertain too many females in hotel rooms or spend too much time at worldsex.com think this is what ladies long to hear.

Just when you think Chasez will never get his head out of his ass, however, you find out why the album is called Schizophrenic. For the final five tracks, he's convincingly sweet, pretty and needy, notably in the most famous words he'll ever write: "'Cause when I'm all alone/I lie awake and masturbate/I love to hear the sounds you make/Baby, here I come."

This ain't Timbaland or the Neptunes--the musical highlight is a Basement Jaxx track hooked by what sounds like an electric tympani. But the electronic dance-rock gets the pop job done--check the hand-clap hook on "Something Special" or the sample from '80s one-shot Corey Hart on "Come to Me." His years in the biggest boy group ever taught Chasez how to sound tuff here and vulnerable there--until the next second banana comes along.

Blender, Mar. 2004