Review Summary: Backstreet's Back is without a doubt the crown jewel of the the mid-90's boy band revival.
Boy bands are a funny thing, for one they don’t really play instruments so the term “band” could be considered a misnomer. In the 1980’s and 90’s boy bands were quite the in-thing for pre-teens, whether it was New Kids On The Block, Westlife, *NSYNC or what may have been the most successful and talented group the Backstreet Boys. The Backstreet Boys more or less saved the concept of the boy band from its near death during 1995. The boys sprung onto the music scene and quickly secured a fan base full of impressionable children. But it wasn’t until 1997 with the release of “Backstreet's Back” that the band truly hit their stride.
When it comes right down to it, the purpose of the backstreet boys is; to create danceable pop songs. So the first question is do they achieve that? Answer: Yes. Lead single Everybody (Backstreet's Back) serves up an excellent piece of dance-pop (Silly term? You betcha). But it does more than that; “Everybody” supplies the listener with a message that accurately informs the listener what the group is all about; the band makes inclusive music for fun, that’s it. There’s no message, there’s no concept, it’s just fun. And when it comes down to it the band achieve this in almost all areas.
Perhaps the best thing about the Backstreet Boys is how well they catered themselves to the pop industry at the time. Their lyrics more or less matched their clean cut appearance; there’s no explicit sexual tension located here, save for the use of the lyric “Am I sexual?” (Yes Nick Carter you are). More or less the album can be separated into two styles of song; there’s the more energetic/clubish tracks like “That’s the way I like it” and “Hey Mr. D.J.” and then there’s the more soothing, ballad-esque tracks like “As Long As You Love Me” and “All I Have To Give” .
Lyrically you wouldn’t be wrong in calling the album awful but, the fact is the purpose of the lyrics isn’t to inspire thought; they’re just words that are easy to remember. Really that’s all pop-lyrics have ever been; no one’s going to find meaning in the Backstreet Boys. But it doesn’t matter, it’s a boy band the only reason they even had lyrics was so Kids/American idol performers/Fat Chicks could piss people off with their tone-deaf covers (performed in the most public of places just to be safe).
Of course the big attraction to boy bands and arguably the only aspect of the band that reflects on the members themselves is the vocal performance and it’s here that the Backstreet Boys set themselves apart from their contemporaries, Nick Carter, Brian Littrell and A. J. McLean are all relatively solid vocalists, they don’t have amazing ranges nor do they have much in the way of varied technique, but that’s kind of the reason they have 5 members. As for the other two they’re backing vocalists and they do their job well enough, the vocal harmonies throughout the album are passable and for the most part the vocal work on the album is quite a pleasant listen.
So, at the end of the day the Backstreet Boys achieved their goals. Backstreet's Back is an album full of hooks, catchy dance numbers and soothing vocals. No it’s not some life changing piece of music, but Backstreet's Back is without a doubt the crown jewel of the the mid-90's boy band revival.