Sisqo doesn't like to pussyfoot around. The former member of R&B; group Dru Hill is about as likely to slip into the role of mewling, repentant lover boy as he is to give up red leather. The man knows what he wants and he goes after it, decorum be damned. His rhythmically dexterous 2000 hit "Thong Song" was a leering exercise in female objectification, but its fibrillation of a beat and double-time vocal transformed sexual tension into pop catharsis.
On the follow-up to his hit solo debut, Sisqo is canny enough to emphasize shape-shifting beats and expansive production flourishes to mask the record's anemic melodies. "Infatuated" marches along to a kind of Disney-fied version of RZA's gothic hip-hopera sound, while "Without You" lopes cheerfully along like Rodgers and Hammerstein gone urban, with its twittering string section and lyrics proclaiming eternal fealty.
But there's nothing even remotely as good as "Thong Song" here. The closest "Return of Dragon" comes to that record's erotically charged frisson is "Last Night," in which Sisqo dreams of an elusive sex bomb over a squawking, techno-flavored synthesizer riff. But it's not enough to redeem this record's by-the-numbers concessions to teenage genre-surfing. Its obligatory big-pimping jams and silky ballads are the sound of consensus-building compromise.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted