Backstreet Boys’ ‘In A World Like This’: Album Review

Jul 30th, 2013 // 7 Comments
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How exactly does a boy band grow up? Backstreet Boys has been trying for years. They stopped dancing in every video. Solo albums were released. For several albums, the group steered away from their founding (and former manager Lou Pearlman‘s) formula, a “New Kids on the Block look with a Boyz II Men sound.” They tried singing solely to live instrumentation (2005′s Never Gone), then without pop wizards Max Martin and Kristian Lundin (2007′s Unbreakable) and went sans their oldest member Kevin Richardson on two albums (Unbreakable and This Is Us). Repeatedly, they stressed that they weren’t a “boy band,” but rather, a “male vocal harmony group.”

But it’s tough for Backstreet to grow up when they reunited only to be compared with younger boy bands — “You were One Direction big,” one reporter actually said — or when the minds behind This Is The End request a surprise cameo that revolves around the band’s 15-year-old hit, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” How can BSB grow up when they just wrapped a reunion tour with New Kids on the Block? In their new album In A World Like This, out today, , Backstreet Boys realized that their attempts to act older, or even “sexual” (thanks, Nick Carter) have often felt forced. For the first time in 13 years, they aren’t trying so hard.

Backstreet helped write eight of the record’s 12 tracks, often with Swedish producer Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, James Morrison). Electric and acoustic guitars, a piano and the occasional string or horn section loosely crowd around BSB during intimate moments, even though all the arrangements seem to cave once the boys break for the arenas: The rollicking “Permanent Stain” soars like an IMAX version of something from Mumford & SonsSigh No More. Meanwhile, the sunny title track proves itself to be BSB’s best follow-up to “I Want It That Way;” each time that peppy beat gives way to the chorus, the song bursts open.

In a World Like This makes other efforts to show how Backstreet can act its age, like acoustic ditties (“Madeleine”) or even more stadium-sized encouragement, like “Show ‘Em (What You’re Made Of)”. But they’re not always mature — sometimes World is stupidly silly, giddy at others or relaxed overall: Love, according to the sugary “Love Somebody,” is to find her purple jeans adorable and call her the reason why cavemen drew on the wall. BSB’s global fanbase, at least in “Feels Like Home,” inspires AJ McLean to fumble through a country drawl as he sings, “Rock out in Bangkok until the party don’t stop.” Yup.

It’s as if BSB is winking directly at closet fans, knowing that they face an audience who will never imagine the group as full-fledged adults, not with still-vivid and understandably embarrassing memories of those teasing jet-setters in the “I Want It That Way” video, or their pas de deux with chairs from “As Long As You Love Me” (the biggest difference between Backstreet and Beastie Boys, did you know?) or constipated faces from “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart).” The group’s grown up, but it’s also refusing to deny their past. Backstreet’s back, alright.

Idolator Score: 4/5

Christina Lee


  1. JJ

    The review does not even go into the tracks in detail…instead is more worried about the band members constipated looks in the 90s . Ridiculous review….

  2. hey this is the best website

  3. patty

    I agree this is a ridiculous review.. I doubt the person who wrote this even actually took the time to hear the tracks on the album. And where do they get they’re trying to “hide their past” and “try to act mature” Please! who says us the fans want their music to evolve or change in any way? I have not seen one single review where they actually talk about harmonies, lyrics, meaning of the songs instead of just trying to bash them for recording and being a “boy band”. I wish someone would actually make an objective review and talk about the album in general and not a
    “BSB album”.

  4. maxperry45

    To correct the reviewer on a point and that is the fact the backstreet boys did go back to dancing in music video’s; take a look at 2009′s “Straight Through My Heart” (which to me is their best single since coming back in 2005) from the album “This is us”. Any way’s In comparison to some of my previous comments on other sites, I must confess that some of the songs on “In A World Like This” are pretty amazing and those are the ones mainly produced by Morgan Tyler Reid (see: Permanent Stain, One Phone Call, Show Em What You’re Made Of”). As for the Martin Terefe Produced tracks let’s just say if ever anyone wanted to bore themselves through a record they just have to listen to one of the backstreet boys tracks produced by Martin Terefe on “In A World Like This”. Regardless of the fact that Martin Terefe may have had successes with “Train or Jason Mraz” he has sucked big time for the backstreet boys. As for the title track / first single from the album, all I can say is that “In A World Like This” is by the poorest performing backstreet boys track to date. It’s performance in the charts matches what the entire song feels like to me, It’s a terrible car crash between a mid tempo rock ballad mixed in with arena like chorus which has somewhat of dancy feel to it not to mention its silly country guitar riff intro and to think this song was written and produced by the creator of some of their greatest hits Max Martin makes you want to shake your head in disbelief. As for the music video its un inspired and lacking much effort and not to mention it’s just a coloured version of their music video for 2007’s “helpless when she smiles”. I hope that the backstreet boys can get back to the studio’s as soon as possible and seriously make another album that’s a lot more like “This is us” than unbreakable or “In A World Like This”….

  5. k-lee

    oh pleaseeeeeee haters u already did the never gone album so what !but for me this a great album w/ great meaning lyrics most importantly juz like the millenium album. Boring for those fans of metals and hip-hop

  6. Nick sings the “Rock out in Bangkok” part of “Feels Like Home” NOT AJ- So you know!

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