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In a World Like This

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Album Review

Usually, teen idols sprint away from the notion they're racking up the years, but the Backstreet Boys cannily decided to treat their 20th Anniversary as a very big deal, bringing Kevin Richardson back into the fold — he left after 2005's Never — for a tour, a documentary, and In a World Like This, the band's seventh album. Over the course of the back half of the 2000s, Backstreet Boys slowly accepted their advancing age, making a slow shift from dance-pop toward adult contemporary, and although it has a sharper gleam in its sheen, In a World Like This doesn't find BSB reversing this trend. Working primarily with longtime colleague Max Martin, Morgan Taylor Reid, and Martin Terefe, who has produced Jason Mraz, Ron Sexsmith, James Morrison, and KT Tunstall among other singer/songwriters, Backstreet Boys take sideways glances toward their past but focus on the present, happy to keep things smooth even when the rhythms get a little heated. Most of the heavier dance beats come courtesy of Reid — the single "Permanent Stain," "One Phone Call," the shoutalong closer "Soldier" — but even then it rarely feels as if the Backstreet Boys are desperate for a club hit; as much as anything, these harder beats are there for some variety in texture. Max Martin does an admirable job in deglossing his hooks on the title track, but where BSB really shine are on the Terefe tracks, which sometimes hint at the breezy acoustic melodicism of Mraz, but better still evoke the classic stripped-down soul of prime Babyface, especially on "Try" and "Trust Me." Perhaps there are moments where texture trumps composition, but overall In a World Like This is a surprisingly mature and fine record from a former boy band that seems unafraid to act its age.

Biography

Formed: 1992 in Orlando, FL

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Backstreet Boys were, in many ways, a contradictory band. Comprised entirely of white middle-class Americans, the group sang a hybrid of new jack balladry, hip-hop, R&B, and dance club pop that originally found its greatest success in Canada and Europe, with their 1996 debut album charting in the Top Ten in nearly every country on the Continent. Ironically, success in their native land did not follow until nearly two years later, when teen pop enjoyed a commercial explosion in America. Along...
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In a World Like This, Backstreet Boys
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock, Dance, Electronic, Adult Contemporary, Teen Pop
  • Released: Jul 30, 2013

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