Black & Blue
The Backstreet Boys were supposedly looking for a more mature sound on this follow-up to the 21-million-selling Millennium, but they never quite reached that destination.
The pop heartthrobs, the oldest of whom—Kevin Richardson—is now 28, stick very close to the tried and true formula that turned them into teen-scream sensations. In other words, the layers of vocals and ultra-slick production are played to the maximum. And while Black & Blue does start with the slightly tougher edge of “The Call,” the Boys soon settle into syrupy mid-tempo fare (“Shape of My Heart”) and wispy balladry such as the soon-to-be wedding song anthem, “I Promise You (With Everything I Am).”
They did co-write five of these tracks and penned two completely on their own, one of which (“Time”) is among the better songs on the disc. Still, this is hardly a declaration of independence, as the players who bankroll the Backstreets' industry are still obviously calling the shots.