Ne-Yo: “Because of You”
Producers: various
Def Jam
Release Date: May 1

Now that the world has become familiar with his lyrics and vocals, Ne-Yo is spicing things up with a sophomore album that's unpredictable and decidedly more pop than his 2006 debut, "In My Own Words." Fun is the agenda, whether he's consciously channeling "Off the Wall" (MJ-style ad-libs and all) via the pulsating rhythms of "Can We Chill" and the lead single/title track or sporting a finely tuned falsetto a la Prince on "Sex With My Ex" and "Addiction." Infused with Motown-style organ, the sultry Jennifer Hudson duet "Leaving Tonight" is a bit ambitious for his low-range vocals, while the go go-esque "Ain't Thinking About You" sounds out of character. But Ne-Yo still has a way with melody, managing to upgrade his offerings while showing that the writer in him ain't dead either. --Clover Hope