Backstreet Boys, "In a World Like This" (K-BAHN, BMG)
Backstreet's back, all right!
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Not all right, actually.
The Backstreet Boys managed to bring fifth member Kevin Richardson back into the fold for an eighth album and a world tour to celebrate 20 years of making music. "In a World Like This" is also the first to come out from under their own label, K-BAHN, after parting with longtime partner, the now defunct Jive Records.
The boys collaborate mostly with producers Martin Terefe and Morgan Taylor Reid on the 12-track album that lacks the immediate hooks that their earlier hits had. BSB's album is a grown-up mix of tunes talking about love and commitment, but the songs bleed into each other despite not being similar. The group is too concerned to show us how they've matured to remember that it's sexy vibes that sell.
"Breathe," "Feels Like Home," "Permanent Stain" and "Make Believe" are average, but they provide the much-needed key hooks for the dance floor. "Try" is too Eric Clapton-esque to stand out in this day and age, while acoustic downers "Madeleine" and "Trust Me" bring the sex appeal factor to a zero Kelvin (thankfully "Show 'Em (What You're Made Of)" raises the temperature for a bit).
The album's best moment is its first song: The Max Martin-produced lead single and title track has simple guitar chords that draw you in and a catchy, wholesome beat that keeps you tapping your feet.
But the rest of the album heads in one direction -- downhill.