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The ‘N Sync hype machine is, at the moment, in full throttle, propelling its latest album, No Strings Attached, into the bedrooms of nearly every teenage girl with a pulse. And although countless dollars and hours are spent on fluff pieces and MTV programming, the fact remains that there’s an actual record here. With songs—pretty good ones, too. So somebody, please, turn that machine off. Taking apart the technology and mechanics would reveal something we’ve seen before: five boys from a sunny climate who love their mothers, dig fast cars, and find joy in singing harmonies together. ‘N Sync is the Beach Boys without Brian Wilson’s genius, a later volume of the same phenomenon. Of course, No Strings Attached is no Pet Sounds. For example, its ode to everlasting love, “That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You,” can’t compete with “God Only Knows,” but what can, really? The songs on this record, however, are slick and ready to contend as this year’s spring hit (a slot already taken with the first track, the incredibly catchy “Bye Bye Bye”), summer hit (my money’s on “It Makes Me Ill”), back-to-school hit, and so on. And the ballads, of course, will provide prom themes and find their way onto the make-out tapes of teenagers who think they’re in love.—Tina Plottel