Backstreet Boys, "This Is Us"
Years removed from their teen-pop prominence, Backstreet Boys continue to produce pleasurable hooks and hummable vocal harmonies on "This Is Us," the group's seventh studio album and second as a foursome. Working with longtime producer Max Martin as well as in-demand dance maestro RedOne, Backstreet Boys offer standard bubble-gum fare while also taking a few intriguing forays into throbbing electronica. While "She's a Dream" and "Bigger" are expertly produced love songs, tracks like "Bye Bye Love" combine slick R&B and vibrant beats into commanding dance music. In any style, A.J., Nick, Brian and Howie can still slay high notes and whisper come-ons with equal aplomb. Although the lyrics never reach too far, the foursome simmers because the album's production keeps up with the singers' harmonizing. "This Is Us" may be a steppingstone in ushering Backstreet Boys away from their days on pop radio and firmly through the club door.-Jason Lipshutz