May 06, 2002 12:00 PM

B2K (Epic)

At ages 16 to 17, the four members of this new R&B boy band make Boyz II Men look like doddering geezers. On the individual trading cards that make up part of the group’s press-kit folder, the guys list such personal details as their star signs, favorite school subjects and the animals they’d most like to be. And, while Omarion, Raz-B, Lil Fizz and J-Boog may vaguely sing about desire on songs such as the percolating “Fantasy,” they keep their lyrics strictly PG: “She’s the hottest thing in school/ So I gotta play it cool.”

Therein lies the refreshing charm of B2K (which means Boys of the New Millennium)—these teen heartthrobs don’t seem to be in a hurry to grow up. The Los Angeles natives demonstrate an innocent, youthful appeal on a consistently likable album that features energetic, hip-hop-infused uptempo numbers and smooth-but-not-too-sexy slow jams. Although not quite in the league of Boyz II Men, they show a surprising maturity in their tasteful vocal delivery and lush harmonies on tender ballads like “Why I Love You,” which even grown-ups should find pretty hard to resist.

Bottom Line: Boy-ant debut

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