By Brian Hiatt
September 12, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Something must have kept soul-pop perfectionist Seal busy in the five years since 1998’s ”Human Being” — but self-reinvention evidently wasn’t on the to-do list. He and producer Trevor Horn surprise occasionally — galvanic breakbeat-plus-guitar backing lifts the infectious should-be first single ”My Vision.” But with its layers of synthesized strings and all-too-tasteful ”dance” grooves to which no one would actually dance, much of Seal sounds dated and tepid — it’s as if its creator has been, um, sealed off from all influences except his own records.