NY Post Review of Black and Blue

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Date: Nov 20, 2000
Source: The New York Post
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BACKSTREET'S BACK

Monday,November 20,2000 By DAN AQUILANTE

The Backstreet Boys are in the battle of their career. The vocal quintet - featuring Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A.J. Morgan and Kevin Richardson - used to be the undisputed kings of the boy bands. Their last disc, "Millennium," sold a whopping 21 million copies worldwide.

But since the release of *NSYNC's incredibly successful No. 2disc, "No Strings Attached," earlier this year, the Backstreeters have had to play second fiddle.

The Boys strike back tomorrow with the release of their third studio disc, a 13-song collection called "Black & Blue," which voices the band's anger at being a target for everyone taking a shot at this style of pop music.

*NSYNC's latest album was startling because it was such a major stylistic about-face for the band.

On "Black & Blue," the Backstreet Boys choose to stay on course - the collection is clearly a follow-up to "Millennium."

Backstreet's personal publicity machine, based in California, refused to provide The Post with a copy of the final "Black & Blue" CD in time for a review by tomorrow's release date, so The Post obtained a pre-production cassette tape here. While the CD's song order may differ, here's how the 13-tune tape unrolled:

The album starts strong with the Latin-spiced syncopated dance tune, "The Call," where the boys take off their halos and sing about a guy who gets caught cheating. It isn't the puppy-love mush many expect the band to wallow in.

Love lost and then found is the transition to the BSB's current single, the romantic ballad "Shape of My Heart," which starts simply - as if it were a lullaby with acoustic instrumentation - and flows into a more standard pop arrangement featuring the Boys' signature five-part harmonies.

Finally, at song three - "Get Another Boyfriend" - Backstreet steps forward with the disc's hardest tune. "Boyfriend" is not such a radical departure, but it does show a distinct quality of musical maturity - the kind of edginess with which Michael Jackson impressed his fans on "Thriller" years ago.

From there on, the album hops between pop balladeering and up-tempo light funk.

The Boys' vocals are at their most appealing on the slow and pretty final track, "How Did I Fall in Love With You" - but the saccharine-sweet ballad "It's True" will send most adults into sugar shock.

Although the Backstreet Boys only dabble at contemporary urban R&B, there are a few vocal references - such as on "Everyone" - that indicate this may be the direction they are heading for future albums.

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