UNBREAKABLE. Backstreet Boys still want it that way and offer it over and over again. Grade: C-plus
So the Backstreet Boys - unlike most of their late `90s bubblegum pop contemporaries, including Britney Spears - have gamely decided to face the reality of their peculiar situation.
They know boy bands always trump "man bands." Nonetheless, the Backstreet Boys have opted to trot out age-appropriate songs on the new "Unbreakable" (Jive) album, trying to make it work on the strength of their strong (and still-improving) voices instead of up-to-the-moment production.
It's a noble enough ambition, but the execution is a bit lacking. The Backstreet Boys, who have found a home on adult contemporary radio in recent years with big power ballads like 2000's "The Shape of My Heart" and 2005's "Incomplete," offer up lots more to choose from on "Unbreakable." The problem is there's very little separating the new single "Inconsolable," a piano-driven, sorta-rock, sorta-R&B ballad, from "Incomplete," or from the new songs "Unmistakable" and "Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon," for that matter.
And aside from the dance-oriented "Everything but Mine" and the "Backstreet's Back" update "Panic," the Boys are pretty much stuck in the same gear for the rest of the album. "Unbreakable"? Maybe. But "Unimaginative," too.
ALSO IN STORES. Former Taking Back Sunday guitarist/singer Fred Mascherino's new band The Color Fred releases its indie-pop debut "Bend to Break" (Equal Vision); former Taking Back Sunday label Victory Records issues a compilation of songs from the band's vault, "Notes from the Past"; Victory also offers a CD/DVD compilation of live and unreleased tracks from Thursday, "Kill the House Lights"; Avenged Sevenfold's "Avenged Sevenfold" (Warner Bros.); Saves the Day's "Under the Boards" (Vagrant); Baby Bash's "Cyclone" (Arista), featuring T-Pain and Sean Kingston; Andrea Bocelli's greatest-hits compilation "Vivere: The Best of Andrea Bocelli" (Decca); and The Eagles' double album of new songs "Long Road Out of Eden," available only at Wal-Mart.
SONG OF THE WEEK. Sometimes great songs only need a little bit of time. Good Charlotte's "I Don't Want to Be in Love (Dance Floor Anthem)" (Epic) seemed to be destined to be one of the year's undeniable hits, with its good-time combo of synth pop and guitar riffs, but got lost in the tabloid frenzy surrounding singer Joel Madden's romance with Nicole Richie. Now that the couple is a bit more settled, preparing for their first child, the song is finally getting some much-deserved attention from pop radio and reviving the band's "Good Morning Revival" album.
Glenn Gamboa: firstname.lastname@example.org