Backstreet’s Back, All Right!: A Review of “DNA” by Backstreet Boys

DNA by Backstreet Boys

I grew up in a Backstreet Boys household. My mom listened to the Backstreet Boys, therefore I listened to the Backstreet Boys. I’m not well-versed enough with N*SYNC’s music (aside from their two biggest hits), so I don’t know if they’re truly the lesser boy band. But that’s what my biased heart says.

Even so, I’ve had little to no interest in their albums beyond their self-titled debut and Millennium (both of which still hold up, by the way). I remember hearing “Incomplete” on the radio and then, well, radio silence. Honestly, I didn’t even know they were still releasing music until recently.

And then I saw them in Vegas and fell back in love. The boys— now men— have still got it. Naturally, that meant I had to check out their latest studio album. So, how does this indie/alternative loser feel about DNA? She fucking loves it.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a quality pop album. And this is a pop record that absolutely shines. From the production to the lyrics to the vocals, everything about this body of work is top-notch. Backstreet is, indeed, back.

DNA covers themes of love, loss, and sex. I wouldn’t say it does so in a novel way, but it’s heartfelt and fun. The Boys commit fully to each narrative. There’s no sense of embarrassment here (though I’ll admit there are a couple of cringy lines). There’s a level of maturity and self-awareness to each of these songs— both of which are largely absent from their older music. Each member of the group has grown both as artists and as people.

Many genres of music influenced this album, from ‘90s R&B/pop (“New Love”) to doo-wop and Motown (“Chateau” and “Breathe”) to dance and EDM (“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “Passionate”) to acoustic (“OK”). The Boys find a healthy balance between upbeat tracks and ballads. DNA is somehow both eclectic and sonically cohesive.

As their tenth studio album, DNA is almost perfect. The only song I don’t particularly care for is “Breathe.” My favorites are “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “New Love,” “Passionate,” “Chances,” and “Chateau.”

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” is dynamic and bombastic, made to be sung in the car. Its only drawback is that the melody on the bridge is pretty much jacked from the bridge of “Smoke & Mirrors” by Demi Lovato. “New Love” has a delicious bass groove. It’s incredibly satisfying to hear the Boys sing in their lower registers.

“Passionate” is upbeat and sexy. It’s a wink and a dare of a song. “Chances” is the most romantic song about meeting someone in a club. Midtempo and lovestruck, this track is easily one of their best to date. “Chateau” is a throwback heartbreak anthem. It strikes right at the heart of loneliness.

DNA is more than a comeback— it’s a triumph. The Backstreet Boys aren’t has-beens. They’ve proven time and time again that they’re here to stay. DNA only cements that. I would as far as to say this will probably be one of my favorite albums of the year. There’s no doubt about it— the Backstreet Boys were born for greatness. It’s in their very DNA.


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