Ne-Yo's latest is a concept album about crime-fighting "R&B superheroes," complete with a femme fatale and a thing called the Libra Scale — a device that measures the weights of money, power, fame and love. If you find that hard to follow, no matter: Just listen to the music. Ne-Yo has crafted an epic full of party songs, beatific ballads and throbbing spy-movie club music. It's lavish disco; the songs are cinematic in scope but have the unshakable hooks of great pop. If that formula sounds like a certain recently deceased R&B superhero — well, that's no coincidence. The real "concept" here is: Michael Jackson tribute album. And a damn good one.
From The Archives Issue 1118: November 25, 2010