New Kids make that NKOTB prove pop appeal in new CD

January 26, 1994|By Michael Saunders | Michael Saunders,The Boston Globe

First, let's set some ground rules. This is "Face the Music," the latest album by New Kids on the Block, now known as NKOTB.

Anyone looking for deep, meaningful lyrics that linger in the mind should probably look elsewhere. No new ground is broken, no styles set. There's no revolution to be marked in the annals of music history. As Donnie Wahlberg put it: "This is just music, this is just entertainment. Take it for what it is."

And this is pop, 1994 style, which means the talent of the performers is secondary to the talent of the producers playing the studio switches.

Take away the New Kids' track record as one of the most profitable pop groups in history, and "Face the Music" is similar to 90 percent of the albums currently hovering on the rhythm and blues charts. That's not a knock on the New Kids; in fact, it's the best feature of "Face the Music."

After years of being dismissed as a group concocted with the sole purpose of siphoning money from teen-age girls and their parents, NKOTB has finally proven that it can run with the pop pack. Squarely in the middle of the pack, but no worse than most.

A new look, a new album, the same hormone-powered hysteria. These older, wiser New Kids on the Block may prefer the moniker NKOTB, but they are no less lovable to their fans.

Outside of Boston's Tower Records on Sunday night, more than 1,000 waited patiently in a line stretching around the block. They were orderly, however. As the crowd grew, so did the police presence.

Only the New Kids' most unrelenting enemies and harshest critics would say that "Face the Music" is a horrible album; surely, some will. Then there are fans, and the people who will listen and take it at face value: pure pop, harmless bubble-gum music for the 1990s, the aural equivalent of cotton candy. It's supposed to be a treat, not a meal.

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