took his sweet time to deliver the sequel to The Day
, a rare flop in his catalog, waiting nearly five years to release Face2Face
. He wasn't exactly in seclusion, since he still worked relentlessly as a producer and songwriter, even masterminding the tremendous pop-punk soundtrack for the 2001 film Josie & the Pussycats. All this activity, combined with the subtleness of The Day
, is in no way preparation for Face2Face
, a gleaming, stylish platter of urban funk and smooth soul that is easily among his very best records. As Babyface
's sense of craft deepens, he's become more assured with what he wants to do on his own records. Though he's dabbled in funk since the beginning of his career, the grooves here cut deeper and are flashier than ever before, and the sweet croon of his voice just makes them seem deeper. Then there are the ballads that he's always excelled at -- they're just as good here, but they not only offer good contrast, they sound better in this context, surrounded by such exquisite dance numbers and grooves. Even if Face2Face
fails to match the chart heights of, say, "Whip Appeal," Babyface
has never been in better form, and from beginning to end, this record captures him at the peak of his powers.