It has been 14 years since the New Kids on the Block released their last studio album Face the Music. In that time it seems little has changed other than they are a bit older and can occasionally sing about nostalgia for their younger days. The music here is solid, but there are few surprises. The gems when they appear are very welcome.
Adult and Perhaps a Little Bit Dull
The mildly successful single "Summertime" sets the standard for much of this album. The New Kids aim to prove they are still sexy, but they do have nostalgia for their free-wheeling younger days. It's not a particularly novel or even strongly engaging premise for a new album after 14 years away. However, it does play things safe for the group's fans. Adult fans moving into their 30's can identify with the New Kids' adult good looks and revel in the audio pleasure of their teenage heroes returning to sing a few romantic and sexy songs.
Another Welcome Back to Teddy Riley
Producer and vocalist Teddy Riley was at the top of his game as the leader of the New Jack Swing movement when the New Kids on the Block were on top of the world in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Riley has endured a long dry spell in hit production. Here he joins with the New Kids and backing vocals from Pussycat Dolls for the most surprising and most pleasurable track here. A retro vibe bringing to mind some of Christina Aguilera's recent work underlies genuinely sexy vocal arrangements. Teddy Riley's work is very welcome to these ears.
Top Tracks on 'The Block'
- "Grown Man"
- "Full Service"
Pleasing If Unchallenging Ear Candy
There are great moments here. "Single," the collaboration with Ne-Yo is a truly triumphant production helmed by Polow da Don and introduced with a nod to his work on Fergie's "Glamorous." However, there are a number of unfortunate turns as well. "Dirty Dancing" is a cheap nostalgia trip, and "Sexify My Love" is just embarrassing at this point in the group's career. However, if you are a fan of the original New Kids on the Block, there is plenty of sweet ear candy here for a satisfying listening experience.