I've been waiting a while to review the new Backstreet Boys CD because I really wanted to devour the album before I made any public comments. While I'm very proud of myself for not holding an obsessive countdown until the release date (actually I barely even paid attention to the fact that a new CD was in the works and I didn't even listen to it the day it came out!), I will admit a bit of BSB fever hit me once I actually got my hands on Unbreakable. But still, I couldn't review it right away. If I did, my story would begin with flashbacks to my younger days when my best friend (who pleaded with me to remain nameless at present time--ahem, Noelle) and I would awake at 4 am only to sit wrapped in blankets outdoor Ticketmasters in a snowstorm until doors opened and we could purchase BSB concert tix.
It would recall my intrigue with the group before they even released their break-thru single, "Quit Playin' Games," because I read about them in British magazines. You would feel my pain as I told you that the first NYC appearance for the Boys was also during my vacation to California. And how I sent Noelle with a video camera to the Virgin Mega Store autograph signing. But instead of getting me phootage of the group, I was welcomed home with video of girls trampling her.
Perhaps I'd post some embarressingly old pictures of us and the band backstage at Hammerstein Ballroom for their first NYC show. And blush as I revealed that AJ told me "Damn, you smell good girl!" Or cringe at the cost we paid for floor seats at
AJ's solo "Johnny No Name" tour.
Ok I'm going to stop now because the rest would just diminsh the level of professionalism in this industry we have both worked like dogs to achieve.
Back to the music.
Backstreet are born entertainers. They're not here to change the musical landscape, or let's be honest, credibility. When those guys hit the stage, it's to put on a show, just like the dancers in Vegas. Yes, I wish the group wrote ALL the lyrics they croon, but it's just not going to happen. Neither is them playing their own instruments. Come on, how would they pull off those skilled shoe-shakin' moves if they had to strum guitars or were locked down behind a drum kit? So all the neysayers, shove it. You're missing out on a guilty pleasure.
However, I feel no shame and will scream it from any front row- I am a Backstreet Boys fan. I grew up with them and even though I'm now a 26 year-old engaged music publicist/editor for an extremely reputable company, that love of timeless Pop music has not faded. Nor has my little-girl crush on the group's badboy, AJ Mclean. But at least now I can give him a run for his money with tattoos.
So let's talk about AJ for a minute. As the member with the strongest, most distinctive voice, it was only natural to have him open up the new album singing an acapella track that nicely ties together with the closing track.
Though I would have advised a little more fine-tuning before the release of the BSB comeback album--like making sure each and every track made a statement that said "this group is not going anywhere," I really enjoy it. Nothing really diverts from the band's classic signature sound, but only a few tracks can really back up a reasoning for that. "Trouble Is" and "Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon" are extremely beautiful songs with Top 10 written all over them.
One shocking event was finding out that 'N Sync member, JC, co-wrote and arranged vocals on the track "Treat Me Right." At first I was dissapointed by the result of the collaboration and expected more of a giant Pop song. But over numerous listens, I've really come to appreciate it. And no one can write a Pop song better than Butch Walker anyway.
I wish I could say I miss Kevin Richardson, who chose not to reunite with the group for this album. But sadly, he was never given the chance to become a distinctive member of the group. Yet, he had a better voice then heart-throb Nick Carter, who gets a lot of the leads.
Thankfully, there are no filler songs so corny that I feel embarresed for them just listening to it. You know, like "The Perfect Fan," from past efforts?
I even think that releasing "Inconsolable" as the first single may not have been the greatest idea. Yes, it's a catchy hit. But it's the safe bet and not too far away from the lead single "Incomplete" off their last release. A&R at the label should have went with "Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon" instead. The lyrics are so touching that I can picture a singer-songwriter releasing it and getting a Number One Hit. AND all four members co-wrote it. Why won't someone just let them take control? This song is better than any other on the album, that pro songwriters were brought in to craft. Come on! The label could have even done some radio teasers and played the acapella intro because it says "no matter what you think, these are four talented vocalists."
That's the bottom line.
I can't wait to catch the live show. Hang up your skinny jeans and stuck up nose and maybe I'll see you there!