QuickTakes

Ne-Yo

Year of the Gentleman (DEF JAM)

In “Year of the Gentleman,” Ne-Yo abandons the subtle shifts between classy and crass that characterized the lyrical content of his first two albums. It was this quirk that had (until now) distinguished him from the ranks of other R&B artists.

-Philip Burrowes

New Kids on the Block

The Block (INTERSCOPE)

“The Block” boasts tracks composed of (roughly) 99 percent synth beats and 1 percent post-prepubescent voice. And although New Kids do turn to outside acts for help, tracks titled “Sexify My Love” and “Put It On My Tab” work against what little cache (and talent) Lady GaGa brings to the table.

-Emily Katz

Kanye West

Love Lockdown (single) (ROC-A-FELLA)

Well, we already knew that Kanye can’t rap. Now we know that he can’t sing, either. I wasn’t aware that all you needed to do for a hot-ass single these days is copy something Cher did 10 years ago.

-Alex Abnos

Chuck Klosterman

Downtown Owl (SIMON & SCHUSTER)

A novel about depression, alcoholism, infidelity, gambling, natural disaster, rare diseases and high-school sports. Life: It’s pretty much the same everywhere.

-Ani Mamourian

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