What can I say about the Backstreet Boys that I haven’t already said? It’s no secret that StarShine has supported the group over the past 8 years that we’ve been a magazine. Band member, AJ McLean’s mother, Denise Solis is one of our writers for crying out loud!
We are indeed biased!
However, I try to approach every review with a fair honesty. Needless to say, I listened to the new BSB album, This Is Us, several times already and nitpicked wherever I could. It wasn’t easy, especially with an album that tries so hard (and accomplishes it) to be true to what the Backstreet Boys are famous for, yet keep up with the times in music.
This Is Us was in fact a departure for members Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell & Howie Dorough in the sense that it wasn’t filled with ultra-mushy ballads like they’re famous for. Songs like “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”, “Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely”, “More Than That” and “Inconsolable” have proven they are more of a vocal harmony group than a boy band that wears cheesy outfits.
The only real ballads on the new CD are “Undone”, which was penned by Ryan Tedder and features a great falsetto by Howie Dorough; “Shattered”, which brings back some classic BSB yet offers something new. It really shines a light on Nick Carter’s vocal growth over the years. And finally, “She’s A Dream”–a ballad without being too sappy. The group wrote the song with T-Pain and, surprisingly, it lacks the machinery overload the rapper is known for–thankfully! It would be a shame to alter the group’s flawless vocals too much.
As for the rest of This Is Us, it delivers some great dance tracks like the radio-worthy “Masquerade” and “PDA”, a fun, provocative song for the relatively clean-cut Boys. A favorite lyric of mine is: “We’d be at the club, the restaurant, the grocery store or the movies/Kissing and touching with my hands all over your booty”. How can you not smile at that?
The first two singles off the album contrast vastly. While “Straight Through My Heart” targets a new market receiving airplay on dance stations, “Bigger” really tells a story with a different style unlike any song out there.
My complaints on the album lie within 2 of the eleven songs. The title track “This Is Us” says those exact words way too many times, and while I complimented Dorough’s falsetto on “Undone”, it’s a bit too high at times on this song. “All Of Your Life (You Need Love)” is elementary lyrically and beat-wise in contrast to the group’s matured style.
“Bye Bye Love” was originally a song I wasn’t into, but it’s quickly growing on me. With all the negatives out of the way, let me praise “If I Knew Then”–the beat, the vocal arrangement and the lyrics are amazing! It’s urban mixed with core Backstreet elements.
This Is Us has done an excellent job in offering an organic listen to each member’s vocal ability while still keeping fantastic beats backing them. With all of the machinery used to make dance music nowadays, it’s a relief to know that some people can still rely on their own voice to produce great music!
Hopefully, once Brian Littrell recovers from the swine flu, the Boys can make up their promotional appearances to let the world know they’re here to stay!
You can purchase This Is Us in music stores (if you can find an actual store nowadays!) and online retailers. A deluxe version is available on iTunes.com! For more information: www.backstreetboys.com.