The Backstreet Boys have sold more albums than any other boy band to date, a fact that is unsurprising since they are hard-working performers and talented vocalists. But the Backstreet Boys’ success is undeniably due in part to the fact they’ve stuck around longer than any of their competition.
The Backstreet Boys have been edging into obscurity for quite some time now, and with their seventh studio album, This Is Us, they might just get there. Despite the album’s decisive title, the boys sound confused and tired.
Their first single, “Straight Through My Heart,” sets the tone for the rest of the album: mildly catchy, but entirely uninteresting.
Both “Straight Through My Heart” and the bubbly “All of Your Life (You Need Love)” were produced by RedOne, the mastermind behind Lady Gaga’s smash hits “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.” But don’t get your hopes up — there is no power or energy behind these easy-listening pop songs. In fact, these songs sound dangerously close to ringtones.
“Bigger” is the album’s second single, and it’s just as soft as the first. The Backstreet Boys used to be “Larger Than Life,” but now they’re just “Bigger.” Bigger than what? ‘N Sync?
This Is Us picks up slightly with the R&B-infused “If I Knew Then,” and the boys get down and dirty on “Masquerade.” These songs sound more like the BSB tunes we once knew and loved, but they’re not enough to make this album enjoyable.
Presumably in an effort to sound more like men than boys, the Backstreet Boys have gotten rid of the bombastic synthed-out hits and sexy slow jams that propelled them to stardom in the ’90s. Now they’re experimenting in the world of adult contemporary pop.
But while their music might be more mature, their lyrics have some catching up to do. “I want your PDA!” they howl in unison on the crackling dance groove “PDA,” ruining the most stylistically unique song on the album with creepy lyrics. Britney Spears might be able to pull this one off, but it’s not working for the men of BSB.
Perhaps the album’s most puzzling musical endeavor is “She’s A Dream,” co-written by T-Pain and the Backstreet Boys themselves. The track is a messy combination of offbeat chords, tinkling synth and poor grammar, as the boys croon “Shorty don’t know who I am/ She don’t know I’m a celebrity.”
The Backstreet Boys used to have a knack for soulful, romantic ballads and energetic club hits, but every song on This Is Us will disappear into the wasteland of forgettable pop songs. Maybe it’s the myriad of guest producers and writers who contributed to This Is Us, but the album lacks focus. This haphazard collection of tracks has nothing in common, except for the fact that each song is just as boring as the next one.
Since BSB only wrote one song, maybe they’re not to blame for album’s lack of direction. But where’s the enthusiasm, boys? This Is Us is also devoid of the catchy hooks and vocal harmonies that the Backstreet Boys have always done so well.
Oh, Backstreet, please tell us that This Is Us isn’t really you. If anything, a few spins of This Is Us will make fans want to dust off Millennium and Backstreet Boys and reminisce about the good old days.
1 star out of 5.