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Robin Thicke 

The Evolution of Robin Thicke (Star Trak/Interscope)

Whatever the issues were that put Robin Thicke's sophomore album on the shelf for the better part of a year, they've likely been forgotten now that the sultry "Lost Without U" has become a hit. The finished version of Evolution drops a few weak numbers from the advance and adds a few new ones (including "Cocaine," which sounds like a tuneless update of George Michael's "Faith"). But Evolution still lives up to its name by trading the by-the-numbers neo-soul of Thicke's 2003 debut for stripped-down, Neptunes-inspired R&B that highlights his heavenly falsetto and mildly twisted fantasies. (Wonder what Robin's pop, the superstraight actor Alan Thicke, thinks about the teacher-student relationship explored on "Teach U a Lesson.") Like Justin Timberlake, Thicke really wants to be Prince — and like Timberlake, Thicke isn't anywhere near that evolved. Enjoy this featherweight rhythm-and-breeze for what it is, not for what it aspires to be.

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