For those of you who are of a certain generation, you may not really appreciate the gravitas of the name Backstreet Boys…while you’ve all been busy enjoying ONE DIRECTION and the like, it was back in the early 90’s that AJ, Howie, Nick, Kevin and Brian more or less paved the way for your teeny-bopping lifestyle. Arguably the biggest selling boy-band in the world, for a period they ruled the airwaves with the likes of “I Want It That Way”, “Larger Than Life” and “Everybody (Backstreets Back)”…but that was a long time ago, and the now man-band have returned with their 9th full length studio album in 2019. Are the boys back in town, or should these backstreets be cordoned off?
We open up with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and the initial soft piano leads into some slick vocal delivery as the track gradually picks up momentum, culminating in a rhythmic chorus fuelled by retro synths. The hooks are simple but effective, with the vocal high notes and their emotive delivery; the overall feeling of hope and optimism leads to a really enjoyable piece of pop music and it’s a decent opener it has to be said. Follow up track “Nobody Else” is really just your modern pop ballad; all of the love song clichés, with the vocal harmony and soppy lyrics delivered within a mellow, laid back track. I mean it’s sweet, but it’s no “Fucking An Animal” by GWAR now is it?
There are a couple of notable moments scattered throughout the record; “New Love” has a bass-driven R’n’B vibe at its core, aiming for a sultry mood setting, though the flutes sort of spoil that, feeling out of place, and chorus suffers from repetition, though the multi-layered climax of the track does end things on a lively note. Recent single “Chances” is probably the albums stand-out track with its soulful vocal delivery, and a groove-heavy, upbeat chorus hooks, another admittedly enjoyable pop song this. “No Place” utilises a smooth country-pop inspired sound, where as “Passionate” houses more funk-driven guitar and subtle brass sections, before we eventually finish on “OK”…soaked in positivity and good vibes, providing the listener with a happy ending.
The question we need to ask I suppose is, in today’s climate; musically speaking…are the Backstreet Boys relevant? While it’s impossible to deny the influence and impact they’ve had on the world of pop music, they’ve sold albums in the millions all around the globe….times they are a changing. They may have been trend setters back in their heyday, with all the young girls fainting over them, with the posters on the walls, the screaming and hysteria…but they’re not getting younger, and newer more relatable artists are replacing them on those walls. Their name will carry them to success still, but this album is in all fairness just a run of the mill, safe, pop album. There’s nothing here that says Backstreets Back (Pun intended) …sadly I guess you could say DNA stands for ‘Don’t Needem’ Anymore’…