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Monday, May 31, 1999 Published at 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK

Entertainment: New Music Releases

CD Review: Boyzone

Boyzone: By Request (Polydor)

By the BBC's Joanna Wilson

This, their fourth album in five years, is a greatest hits package with a clutch of new tracks - including frontman Ronan Keating's solo song from the Notting Hill soundtrack - tagged on the end.

Whether or not this is their swansong remains to be seen - but nonetheless this package of 19 songs neatly consolidates what they have achieved as a band since they first burst onto the pop scene with Love Me For A Reason at the end of 1994.

They have actually achieved quite a lot. No one else can claim to have reached the top three with their first 15 singles - and six of those have made it to the number one spot.

No small feat, especially, when you're a boy band with a short life expectancy.

So, in the commercial sense they've done amazingly well, but at what price musically?

Complacent state

[ image: Has success made the Irish fivesome dull and predictable?]
Has success made the Irish fivesome dull and predictable?
In the last 18 months they seem to have slipped into a rather complacent state, playing it safe with a string of increasingly dull ballads, culminating in their most recent release You Needed Me - which didn't deserve to get into the Top 10, let alone to number one - and relying heavily on the loyalty of their fans.

In their quest to appeal to a more 'grown up' audience, it's all become a bit boring.

It's a shame, especially when you listen to some of the earlier stuff, such as the excellent up-tempo epic A Different Beat, which was written by the group and in my opinion is their best song to date.

And what about the emotionally-charged Words, which gave them their first number one in December 1996, and the feel-good simplicity of Picture Of You from the movie Bean? Back then, it was a different story. More varied, more exciting - and less predictable.

So perhaps that's the answer - time to stop resting on your laurels guys, and spice things up a bit. Time to take a few risks!

Only one of the new tracks on the album is a bit more adventurous - the slick, R&B flavoured So They Told Me. Others such as All The Time In The World are good sing-along tunes, but ultimately tread the same formulaic territory as many previous songs.

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