Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

JC Chasez -- Schizophrenic
Jive; 2004

One thing that's exceedingly difficult for band members who decide to strike out on their own is proving that they were crucial to the group's success, not just the chump who rode in on coattails. Justin Timberlake did it; his album Justified sold millions of copies, making him the first boy band member to have any real notoriety outside the parent-approved shell. Seeing this, JC Chasez -- also of N'sync fame -- thought to himself, "Well hell, I can do that too!" and recorded his solo debut, Schizophrenic.

But there are key differences between Timberlake and Chasez. For one, Timberlake was quite obviously the central -- and hottest, if I must say so myself -- member of N'Snyc and Justified exuded that same sort of "I'm the Man" confidence. Chasez's supporting-character role in the group didn't afford him the same luxury to fall back on, so he had to create a new image for himself. His choice? Uh, well, he kind of chose to be a lusty sex addict.

Schizophrenic is a fine how-do-you-do to fans who expect the same saccharine sweet sentiments they found in their now dusty N'Sync albums. Instead, Chasez puts forth songs like "All Day I Dream About Sex," where he spits "All day long I dream about sex and all night long I think about sex," and the equally wince-worthy "Keep in mind I'm a love machine, baby / 24-7, call me any time you need some."

The sexcapades don't stop there, as in the next song Chasez asks a girl to copulate only moments after meeting her in the club. He seems to have no shame about his vices, and even self discloses about his more... personal habits on the Kylie Minogue-like track "Come To Me." While only some of his songs get into the same amount of raunchy detail, Chasez is all about his new and very adult image.

At the same time, it's evident that Chasez realizes how risky a move being only a love junkie would be, because other songs downplay the trait, both musically and lyrically. Rather than using all hump-thump electro landscapes or even more traditional dance tracks, Chasez resorts to guitars, and lots of them. "She's Got Me," "Right Here (By Your Side)" and "Something Special" are like JC fronting Jack Johnson tunes -- no chances are taken with melody and the yawn factor is set to "Barenaked Ladies."

"100 Ways" is what I would hesitate to call funky, mainly because listeners will be too busy rolling their eyes at Chasez's cock-sure bravado to notice the backing band's failed attempt at groove. JC reaches to his roots to round out the album, including dance pop songs like mediocre if catchy "Some Girls (Dance With Women)" and the excellent Basement Jaxx production, "Shake It." It's almost like he's trying to cover all the musical bases since no one style particularly fits.

Not surprisingly, the songs that show the most promise are Chasez's departures from the Don Juan 2k4 persona. "Dear Goodbye" is a richly textured ballad of rippling guitar arpeggios, strings, and tingly bells that are so pretty that JC sounds -- get this -- classy! The heavily Police-influenced "Everything You Want" may be ersatz reggae, but its backbeat rhythm compliments Chasez's Sting impersonation perfectly, ratcheting it to album standout status.

So in some ways Schizophrenic is both a success and a failure. It helps Chasez establish the new persona of sometimes romantic, sometimes voracious lover and gives him a venue to attain musical cred. At the same time, it's a pretty small step forward, as Schizophrenic has very few tracks with as much gusto as Timberlake's hotshot debut. Perhaps horny wasn't the hook for Chasez to hang his hat on. Next step, Mr. Niceguy!

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