Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Unbreakable - Simply Beautiful

Backstreet Boys Unbreakable - Simply Beautiful
By Bill Lamb
4 out of 5 stars

The Backstreet Boys are not every music fan's cup of tea, but, simply put, this album consists of one beautiful pop song after another. The incomparably lush harmonies and instantly pleasing melodies are a bit overwhelming when taken as a complete album, so the group remains at its best as a singles band. The good news is that every one of these songs is radio friendly. As Timbaland tops the pop singles chart with the unapologetic adult contemporary sound of "Apologize," it's time for radio programmers to welcome the Boys back.

Sympathetic Production
In a very wise move, the Backstreet Boys have fully abandoned the Max Martin sound of many of their early hits and, instead, are working with producers sympathetic to their efforts to sound like an adult vocal group. Dan Muckala, producer and co-songwriter of the group's hit single "Incomplete" from their last album Never Gone, is the producer of the bulk of the material here. However, other top studio pros like Emanuel Kiriakou (Nick Lachey's "What's Left of Me"), John Shanks (Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway"), and Billy Mann (Pink's "Stupid Girls") work their magic, too.

The Purest Pop
The sound leans to adult contemporary, but contemporary pop music doesn't get much more pure than this. Memorable melodies, interwoven choral harmonies, piano, strings, and gentle use of guitar and drums combine for straightforward songs that will engage most pop fans. There are a few cuts, most notably "Any Other Way" and "Panic," that add rock elements to the group's sound but it only takes one cut like the first single "Inconsolable" to realize the group is concentrating on fleshing out their most comfortable pop territory. Fellow boy band veteran JC Chasez of *NSYNC takes the Backstreet Boys into upbeat pop territory familiar to both goups with his production and songwriting talents.

Top Tracks on 'Unbreakable'

Helpless When She Smiles
Treat Me Right
Love Will Keep You Up All Night
Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon

A Comfortable Place for the Backstreet Boys
The days of first week album sales in excess of 1 million are probably long over for the Backstreet Boys, but, after the growing pains of Never Gone, the group seems to have settled into a comfortable place as an adult vocal group. They have long been one of the most talented of boy bands in pure vocal ability. Now they have found the right production and songwriting collaborators to take their songs to the next level. If you are looking for an album of pure pop pleasure, you can not do much better with current releases than Unbreakable.

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