Atlanta Journal-Constitution Review of B&B
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Date: Nov 22, 2000
Backstreet Boys turn out more sweet-sounding pop
Fan protests to the contrary, comparing the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync is like comparing apples and apples -- some are tart, some are sweet, but they have a similar flavor. It's inevitable that "Black & Blue" will be measured against 'N Sync's record-breaking "No Strings Attached," along with the Boys' own "Millennium," a previous first-week sales record-holder. The verdict: it's not quite up to either of them, but it's no slouch.
Super producer Max Martin and his co-horts at Cheiron Productions in Stockholm are still on board. The folks responsible for "I Want It That Way" (on "Millennium") and "It's Gonna Be Me" (on "No Strings Attached") are in on most of the best stuff on "Black & Blue," too. The Latin-tinged stomp of "The Call," the "no no, uh-uh" hook of "Not for Me" and first single "Shape of My Heart" were all recorded in Stockholm.
The ballads get in the way. "I Promise You (With Everything I Am)" was written by Dan Hill -- the man resposible for the sugary "Sometimes When We Touch," a hit in 1978. While he thought the honesty was too much in that tune, the icky-sweet cliches are really too much here. The Babyface-produced "Time" has that chiming electric piano sound that propelled Styx's "Babe." If that's a good thing to you, you might like this. The other slowies are better, but the uptempo tunes are still what the Boys do best (excepting the perfect pop of "I Want It That Way").
In boy-band land, this Orlando quintet is one of the best. On this side of the Atlantic, 'N Sync is the only other group capable of spinning this kind of bubblegum into gold. The Brits have their own candidate in Five, but they're definitely a tart apple. The Backstreet Boys are always sweet.
-- Shane Harrison
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