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Backstreet Boys
DNA

Backstreet Boys | DNA

Label: RCA
Release Date: January 25, 2019
Rating:  4.75 out of 5
Grab/Stream This At:
January 28, 2019
By Alan Ho
Backstreet's back, alright? Actually they never really left. Ever. The group have been spending the last two years thoroughly mining their past (except for one song, which AJ said recently on GMA was the worst song ever they did) in their winding down Las Vegas residency. But on their 10th release, DNA, the boys...er MEN prove that they still got it and can blend their past with the modern and end result is their strongest effort since their groundbreaking 1999 smash Millennium. Yes this reviewer can dare say that with no hesitation. This is an album that not only is siren call to their ardent fans, many of them in their 30s and even 40s but also one that those in their 30s and 40s can share with their One Direction, BTS, Ed Sheeran, Little Mix-loving kids in their pre-teens, tweens, teens and maybe their incoming college freshmen or next year's sophomores.

The album begins with the strong "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," the first single off of it, which blends the five piece harmony the group has always been known for with smart lyrics for the 21st century all wrapped up in the familiar beats that dominate the CHR/Top 40 today. In fact that is the very theme that permeates the entire album, which is resulting in their first Grammy nod in 17 years (2002's Black & Blue).

Speaking of five-piece harmony, you cannot MISS the third track "Breathe," and with apologies to 98 Degrees, out of all the boy bands that came about in the mid to late 90s, the Backstreet Boys showcase why they're the king in the a capella category. In fact, you can hear them influence then-future groups like Straight No Chaser and Pentatonix for just over 3 minutes and how they in turn got influenced by the Eagles, who were also known for their harmony when they got the chance to do it. It's a master class really.

To prove they can still turn up the dial to 11, "New Love" might result in the latest and future kids of Generation Z. Don't believe it? Listen. After 25 years, they still got that too and still dress it up in a bass line that is modern yet retro. Same goes for "Passionate," where if you've been crushing on everyone not named Brian and Kevin, well there you go.

"Is It Just Me" shows off the Boys willingness to adapt to modern changes in production, although the opening piano riff that permeates the song knocks too close to the opening piano of The Chainsmoker's (ft. Halsey) "Closer." "Chances" almost feels like the group is looking to be the latest to school 5 Seconds of Summer and their current sound in that they still got a long way to go to join them at the true top of the pop apex.  Now if you also feel familiar, "Chances" is written by  a pair of juggernauts, Shawn Mendes and Ryan Tedder.

"No Place" showcases the Boys' continued dominance and ability to go acoustic. But not any kind of acoustic, "No Place" is a sunny country-pop acoustic song that could find its way on some spins on forward-thinking country stations that propelled"Meant To Be." Speaking of that, the most country single done to date for them would be the Dustin Lynch/Ross Copperman-propelled "Just Like You Like It." This should create healthy debate on who crossover-ed better, the Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake (ft. Chris Stapleton) or Bebe Rexha (Florida Georgia Line).

DNA represents the strongest all around effort in essentially 20 years. 20 years ago, Millennium launched them into the top of the pop zeitgeist. 20 years later, DNA might as well propel them into a legendary status that very few have reached. And that is despite the fact that DNA may never produce the kind of hit like "I Want It That Way" or "As Long As You Love Me." But the Backstreet Boys know that but it did not stop them from producing a masterfully crafted album that shows that while they haven't forgotten their past, they also haven't forgotten a master rule in music: if you want to last long and become a legend, you got to be able to adapt and change with the times while at the same time, don't forget who you are.
Alan Ho is the co-founder, CEO and Chief Publisher/Webmaster of Musiqtone.com.  In between his IT guy duties in his day job, watching CW superhero shows, rooting for the Cubs and his alma mater Purdue, he manages to find time to review albums, make an infrequent sit-down in the Hot Seat and go cover a show or two.
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