Polydor - 2003 - 62 minutes

D-Side aren't your average boyband. Contending for the vacant spot left in the market by the Backstreet Boys, their image often contradicts their material. Vying for credibility with a gritty street image, their harmonious vocals make for a contradictory mix.

That said, 'Stronger Together' is a likeable package. It is cleverly broad-ranging in appeal, sampling a bit of pop, soul and dance music. Moving from the kind of tracks that you expect to hear from a tacky wedding band ('The Real World') to funky dance tunes ('Pushin' Me Out'), the generous compliment of seventeen tracks provides enough to make D-Side's debut very likeable.

Delving into modern themes of celebrity obsession and fame ('My Best Chance'), this album won't jump off the shelf but it will creep under your skin in a very infectious manner. The tunes are catchy, with even Eurovision-type songs like the title track, 'Stronger Together', sticking in your head.

This album may convince those who are cynical about the boyband phenomenon to do a double take. There's vocal talent, a variety of styles and cross-genres, and effective musical accompaniment. The content may sound like it should have come straight from the soundtrack of a soppy movie ('Can We Dance', 'Where Do You Run') but it makes for compulsive listening.

If D-Side was a racehorse I suspect their words of "The favourite won't win...not in every race" might ring true. There are some contenders here to give the big shots a run for their money. An impressive first outing.

Linda McGee

Tracklisting: Invisible - Pushin' Me Out - I'd Be Lyin' - Real World - Speechless - Crazy - World Of Love - Dear You - Everything About You - My Best Chance - Can We Dance - Where Do You Run - The Favourite - Anybody Else But You - Stronger Together - Fix Me - Back In His Arms (Where She Belongs) - Here I Stand