New Kids on the Block
A lot of hype surrounded the comeback of New Kids on the Block with 2008’s The Block, but let’s face it: the album was a stinker.
Selling modestly on the back of a dedicated fan base, The Block was the sound of middle-aged men trying to recapture their teenage years with slightly embarrassing results.
That said, the album did its job.
It was a glorified business card announcing to the world that the boys were back and the resulting arena tours were well received.
The waves of nostalgia generated in the tours seems to have seeped into the new album 10.
Mostly gone are the attempts to please the Beliebers and the One Direction-ites. Instead, the boys took some lessons from their British peers Take That by embracing their middle age and crafting a decent offering.
Europop is the flavour of the day here.
The tracks boast waves of creeping synths, spluttering beats and those trademark tight harmonies.
The strutting lead single Remix (I Like The) is a welcome return to the sound of the 1980s, with each member getting his own vocal solo and a nice bit of melodic rap thrown in.
We Own the Night is another dynamic offering, with the boys sounding reserved over one of the many strong beats supplied by the Danish production team Dee Kay.
Wasted on You is another production highlight with wonderfully tempered melodies supplied by the producer Jess Cates.
Donnie Wahlberg benefits the most here. The bad boy shows some regrets over rushing into a relationship that left him cold and bitter.
The album’s bright start is sadly undone with a middle section full of clunky attempts to sound like what they deem as current. Crash is simply turgid. The Euro beats seemed to have been lifted off of a cheap Casio piano, with the vocals auto-tuned beyond recognition.
The Whisper sounds like the boys couldn’t afford a tune by David Guetta so instead, they copied one without any of the earworm hooks of the Frenchman.
It is also here that the sub-par lyrics of the album begin to grate.
They are bad enough to warrant a game of guessing which cliché or lazy juxtaposition comes next.
In The Whisper, the lads exclaim how “the whisper has never been so loud”, while in Wasted On You, the femme fatal was “the oxygen I breathe, running through my veins”.
Fortunately, the vocal-driven final track Surviving You wraps things up by reminding us of the group’s essence: four Boston boys with some beautiful harmonies.
This should be the starting point for the next album.
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