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Album review: Backstreet Boys' 'This Is Us'

October 6, 2009 |  5:50 pm
Backstreetboys The best song on Backstreet Boys' new album "This Is Us" is also by far the weirdest and creepiest. "PDA," an ode to the pleasure of public groping, splits the difference between the exhibitionist euphoria of Usher's "Love in  This Club" and Andy Samberg's "Saturday Night Live" skit about the travails of overly, um, sensitive men, the title of which cannot be reprinted in a family newspaper.

Coming from a band better known for its blow-out Max Martin ballads, it should be an embarrassing bit of lechery -- apparently even the grocery store is an acceptable forum for feelin' on a target's booty. But it's just absurd and un-self-aware enough to enter the pop vocabulary, which unfortunately can't be said for much else on "This Is Us," a competent but very late-adopted pop-trance slurry.

Though the Boys were one of the biggest pop acts of the '90s, they largely hand the reins off to their producers here, who include Lady GaGa’s hit-maker RedOne, Jim Jonsin and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder.

Cuts like "Bye Bye Love" and "Straight Through My Heart" have au courant hotel-lounge decadence to them, and "She's a Dream" benefits from the light melodic touch of guest T-Pain. But when the boys extol a lady's virtues because "she don't even know I'm a celebrity," the lyric rings of self-fulfilling prophecy.

--August Brown

Backstreet Boys
"This Is Us"
Two stars