A1

Overseas, foursome A1 has evolved from your standard-issue boy band to a credible acoustic-framed ensemble with tenacity.

Overseas, foursome A1 has evolved from your standard-issue boy band to a credible acoustic-framed ensemble with tenacity. "Caught in the Middle," the group's first stateside single, has already stormed Europe and Asia, and with good reason: It meshes a hook-sodden melody with pristine harmonies and bull's-eye instrumentation. These guys write their own music, play instruments, and do all the rest that most of today's "credible" U.S. rock bands do—unfortunately, because they're blessed with good looks, their hill is a steeper climb here. A shame, since tracks like the lovely "Make It Good" and pop treasure "Same Old Brand New You" are truly timeless, well-crafted songs, free of the cheap gimmickry that litters so much of today's mainstream fodder. An interesting note: A1 is among the first albums to test the new label trend of releasing fewer tracks—seven here—for a lower retail price, in an effort to win back consumer interest in a flailing marketplace. Let's hope that draws it deserved notice; A1's more than got the sauce to make good in America.—CT