Backstreet Boys retain relevance with new album

By Peter Zemeske

Backstreet Boys is a group that reminds listeners of the late ’90s so a new Backstreet Boys album might come as a surprise, but the group is back and its latest entry in the music world is “DNA,” released Jan. 25.

Backstreet Boys have had a rough go at remaining relevant in the ever-changing environment of pop music. The group hasn’t been on the mainstage of pop music in what feels like forever, even with consistent album releases. Their previous album, “In a World Like This,” released Jul. 24, 2013 started the maturing process for the group to go from a has-been boy band to a band modern audiences can take seriously. “DNA” continues to see the band grow with age gracefully.

“DNA” keeps Backstreet Boys’ signature vocal-driven sound intact while merging with modern pop instrumentals. A key example is in the album’s lead single, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” The track starts with atmospheric, reverb-laden piano chords and leads into Nick Carter’s verse about being reluctant to enter into a relationship. The pre-chorus builds into a thumping synth-heavy chorus fitting in with contemporary peers like 5 Seconds of Summer or Justin Bieber.

The track sets the tone for the remainder of the 12-track, 39 minute album. Track seven, “Chances,” is another hit begging for radio play and is about the odds of a man finding his current love interest where he did. The minimal instrumentation and AJ McLean’s strong vocal performance serve the track well.

The closest the band comes to outright nostalgia is on track nine, “Chateau.” The simple lyrical flow, chord progression and shimmering keys would fit alongside any of the early Backstreet Boys’ hit singles such as the iconic “I Want It That Way,” released Apr. 12, 1999.

“The Way It Was,” track 10, stands out with its gospel inspired percussion and choir vocals making it unique to the group’s sound. The boys get mildly country on track 11, “Just Like You Like It,” with acoustic guitars and lovey-dovey lyrics.

“DNA” has enough variety in tones to keep interest, but is consistent enough to stay loyal to itself. Backstreet Boys add a solid piece to their catalog with “DNA.” The album proves groups from the past can update their sound to keep up with modern musical trends while staying true to themselves.