New Kids On The Block: The Block

New Kids On The Block: The Block

C+

New Kids On The Block

Album: The Block
Label: Interscope

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Before getting into the specifics of what a term like "sexify" might mean, it's worth taking a moment to wonder why any of the New Kids On The Block would qualify as go-to authorities in matters related to sexification. That question comes to mind throughout the song "Sexify My Love" and throughout The Block, the first NKOTB album since what might as well be three decades ago. All the "Kids" are old now—their mean age is 38.2—which makes certain moments strange, or at least a little awkward. In "Big Girl Now," they leer at a girl all grown-up and so ready to let it go that she's "got a grown man ready to blow." (Note the unpleasant conjuring of Jordan or Donnie or Joey or Danny or Jonathan ejaculating all over the place.) In songs like "Dirty Dancing" and "Stare At You," they… well, they merely sound like a boy band, and pay for the simple incongruity of it all.

Which is a shame—kind of—because The Block is accomplished otherwise. The slinky "Click Click Click" and the soulful "2 In The Morning" move at rich, patient, atmospheric speeds that suggest a new kind of mature pop/R&B; mode, while boisterous songs like "Big Girl Now" and "Summertime" make much of their elaborate laser-jam synths. There's a lot to like on The Block, even if it doesn't stand a chance of being heard as anything so simple.

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