Backstreet Boys are back together again as a five-piece for the first time since 2006 when Kevin Richardson left the band after the release of their album Never Gone. Wanting to take a break and pursue other interests, Kevin departed leaving the band as a four-piece. Undeterred Backstreet Boys continues releasing 2007 album Unbreakable and 2009 album This Is Us. During their UK tour with New Kids on the Block last year, Backstreet Boys announced that Kevin was returning to the band and they would record a new album as a five-piece. The end result is new album In A World Like This.
In A World Like This finds Backstreet Boys continuing to mature with their sound. The album’s title track sees the group working once again with long-time collaborator Max Martin. The track keeps Backstreet Boys’ sensibilities allowing their strong harmonies to come to the fore on the chorus and giving each of the individual members vocal parts. Musically the song is an acoustic-driven mid-tempo number that is recognisable as them but different to anything they’ve done before. It certainly sets the tone for the rest of the record.
Essentially In A World Like This is Backstreet Boys all grown up. Now they’ve regrouped as a five-piece they have got the energy that made them such a huge success in the first place. Permanent Stain, which they previewed live on TV in the US a few months back, is one of the more up-tempo moments on the record and features soaring sing-a-long moments as well as strong harmonies. Elsewhere on the record the group combines chunky beats with a positive message on Show ‘Em (What You’re Made Of), give a nod to their classic uptempo sound on the military beat-led Love Somebody, and celebrate all the places they’ve been on the catchy Feels Like Home.
The group experiments on the stripped-down acoustic driven Madeleine which you’d never guess was a Backstreet Boys song. The laidback groove has more in common with Jason Mraz than it does the group’s back catalogue. Similarly the bluesy lazy vibe of Try takes the group in a new direction and they sound fantastic. It’s one of the highlights on the record featuring fantastic vocals from A.J.
Closing track Soldier is another highlight on the record with its soaring chorus and the group’s trademark harmonies. There really is no other boy band (or should we now say male vocal group?) that cane sing like Backstreet Boys. One Direction and The Wanted have nothing on these pop icons.
In A World Like This is Backstreet Boys with their mojo back. Having Kevin back in the fold seems to have reignited their creativity and they’ve co-written many of the tracks on the album. Their sound is contemporary, more mature but distinctively Backstreet Boys. It’s good to see the group pushing outside of their comfort zone and we can’t wait to see these songs performed live.