Here are a few reviews of "The Block"
September 02, 2008 , 10:15 AM ET
Gary Graff, Detroit
Joey McIntyre promises New Kids On The Block fans will see "a big show" when the group hits the road next month to promote "The Block," its first set of new material in 14 years.
"This is, I think, a classy show, and we want to make it a world class show," McIntyre tells Billboard.com. But, he adds, "there's not gonna be any Ferris wheels or ... trapezes, not too many tricks. We're sticking to the basics. We're working with great lighting and sound and video, but as a stage, I think, it's simple. It's us and we believe it's gonna come from us whether people are entertained."
McIntyre says audiences will "definitely hear all their old favorite songs" as well as material from "The Block," including the singles "Summertime" and "Single," with McIntyre covering Ne-Yo's parts on the latter. NKOTB will be joined by four dancers, but he also points out that fans "know us as dancers, too, and we're dancing our asses off. We're not pulling out stools and sitting down and singing our hits. We're not jumping around like we used to but we're dancing up a storm and we still feel like the five hardest-working kids in show business."
NKOTB has finished rehearsals for the moment to allow the group to do interviews and make appearances to promote "The Block," which comes out today (Sept. 2). The group reconvenes around Sept. 15 in Toronto for three days of tech rehearsals before the tour starts on Sept. 18 at the Air Canada Centre.
McIntyre says NKOTB will play a month of dates in Europe in 2009 and is also eyeballing Asia, Australia and New Zealand, with early rumors about more North American dates next summer. "We just want to keep everything in front of us instead of too far ahead of us," he explains.
He's equally cautious about the long-term prospects for the NKOTB reunion. "We really don't know," McIntyre notes. "The challenge is, how do you keep it fresh and how do you keep it new? I guess we could tour every two years and make a new album, but it's not gonna be stock. We want to push the envelope and do something that challenges us and is new to us. But first the question this time around was 'Can they come back?,' and I think we have. Now it's like, 'What are they gonna do next?' and ... we'll see."
New Kids on the Block's new CD "The Block"
New Kids on the Block, The Block (Interscope)
Back story: In the early '80s, long before Lou Pearlman assembled boy bands 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys in Orlando, Maurice Starr put together pop music sensations New Edition and New Kids on the Block in Boston. NKOTB released three albums (four if you count the Christmas one) and broke up in 1994, making The Block the first NKOTB release in 14 years.
Why you should care: NKOTB is a pop music curiosity. And though Donnie Wahlberg, Joe McIntyre, Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight and Danny Wood are not kids anymore, they do still have some pep in their step.
Verdict: It's a real shame that the group's comeback attempt follows the same formula of so many other contemporary r&b/pop acts, from using producers like Timbaland (who phones in a dance beat for Twisted) and Polow Da Don (reprising chants he's already given to Usher and Fergie on Single and Lights, Camera, Action) to grabbing overexposed guest stars like Akon (who dominates everyone with the weak Put It on My Tab). Songs like Sexify My Love would have been more appropriate for an r&b group with members in their 20s — like, say, Pretty Ricky — than for guys in their 30s, for whom the lyrics feel a bit perverted.
New Kids on the Block Photos X-factor: The coolest postscript to the NKOTB story has been the successful acting careers of Donnie Wahlberg and, to a greater extent, his brother Mark, the latter of whom was once known only as the rapper/Calvin Klein model Marky Mark. Donnie has appeared on television (Band of Brothers, Runaway) and in films (Saw, The Sixth Sense), and Mark has had memorable film roles in Boogie Nights and The Departed and is an executive producer for the HBO series Entourage.
New Kids on the Block
On their first album since 1994, the thirtysomething members of New Kids on the Block make remarkably little attempt to conceal their ages. There's one song called "Grown Man," for example, and there's another in which the hook goes, "I'm a big boy / You're a big girl now."
"The Block" even ends with a bit of in-the-studio chatter between Donnie Wahlberg and one of his children -- not the most efficient way of distracting us from the fact that these backstreet boys are well on their way to becoming middle-aged men. (On the other hand, the album does include a track called "Sexify My Love," which is certainly a mistake nobody over the age of 16 should make.)
Perhaps the surest sign of the New Kids' maturity here is the surprising strength of most of the material. They've been around long enough to know what a hit sounds like, and they're wise enough to know that they don't have forever to rebuild a following. So "The Block" comes loaded with sure-thing collaborations with radio-pop rainmakers such as Timbaland, Akon, Ne-Yo and Polow da Don, each of whom treat the project with respect, not condescension.
The best cuts exude an understated confidence the old New Kids never had: In "Click Click Click" they layer sleek blue-eyed soul vocals over a hushed computer-music groove, while "Twisted," the Timbaland track, sets angelic harmonies against a menacing synth riff. "Grown Man," produced by new jack swing maestro Teddy Riley, even makes clever use of a sample of "Chain of Fools."
Considering Top 40's predilection for unlined young faces, "The Block's" unexpected quality is no guarantee of a commercial rebirth for NKOTB, who play the Staples Center on Oct. 8. Believe it or not, though, they've got the right stuff.
Review: 'The Block' from New Kids on the BlockReview
GLENN GAMBOA email@example.com
September 2, 2008
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
THE GRADE B BOTTOM LINE The year's most potent reunion and maybe its biggest surprise
Certain expectations come with reunion albums, especially ones where the group has been apart longer than they were together.
But New Kids on the Block's "The Block" (Interscope) confounds them all. Not only does the Boston quintet's first new album in 14 years surpass the usual cobbled-together-so-we-can-tour reunion record, it is actually the best album of their multiplatinum career.
Unlike their most successful albums, including "Hangin' Tough" from 20 years ago, "The Block" isn't an all-Starr - impresario Maurice Starr - affair but a collection of some of the best collaborations with some of today's hottest songwriters.
In fact, the amiable first single, "Summertime," is a bit of a red herring. The rest of "The Block" is far from safe or laid-back. There are bold dance numbers, such as "Grown Man," featuring the Pussycat Dolls and Teddy Riley, that wrap up elements of Aretha soul, boy-band harmonies and today's R&B in a slick package. There are such songs as the pretty collaboration with Ne-Yo, "Single," which show off the New Kids' still-strong vocals, especially from Joey McIntyre and Jordan Knight. And there's a bona fide smash-in-waiting with "Put It on My Tab," a T-Pain-styled club song helmed by Akon that is sure to make even the staunchest haters do a double-take.
"The Block" may not break any ground musically, but it's actually strong enough to make people reconsider the New Kids' entire career and wonder what will come next.
By Nicholas Fonseca
As if desperate to shed the boy band stigma and prove they're now men, New Kid's on the Block's new collection of committee-crafted tracks The Block bears no distinguishing marks aside from a compulsion for sex, sex, sex with a lover whose name, apparently, is Girl. Breezy single ''Summertime'' aside, it's all vaguely icky: ''Grown Man'' features the Pussycat Dolls chirping ''Do you like my body?/Do you think that I'm a hottie?'' while ''Lights, Camera, Action'' vapidly celebrates videotaped nookie. C-
DOWNLOAD THIS: Watch the video for ''Summertime'' on YouTube
3 Stars out of 4
Nearly 15 yeaers after disbanding, New Kids on the Block's comeback offers few surprises while delivering on the nostalgia with their trademark sweet harmonies. Their first single "Summertime" is a scoop of pop confection. The guys really shine when pairing up with guest stars, as on the slinky smooth "Single" with Ne-Yo or the bouncy "Put It on My Tab" with Akon. They even turn up the heat with the Pussycat Dolls on "Grown Man." And in a move that declares "What feud?" once and for all, the Kids share the mic with New Edition their supposed 80's rivals on "Full Service."
New Kids on the Block
by Sal Cinquemani
Posted: August 28, 2008
What began as an Internet rumor turned into self-fulfilling prophecy, as shortly after denying reports about a reunion, New Kids on the Block officially announced plans for their comeback. Despite a recent attempt by the music industry to resurrect the perennial boy-band format with groups like Day26 and the Jonas Brothers, the timing is dubious: Donnie Wahlberg has reinvented himself as an actor, with a semi-respectable career in Hollywood that's eclipsed in the pinup-turned-thespian pantheon only by his brother Marky, while Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre seemed to squeeze whatever residual goodwill remained from their aging fans when they scored solo hits in the midst of the last boy-band craze almost a decade ago. With an average age of 38, the New Kids are neither "kids" nor "new" nor "boys." (Hell, they aren't a "band" either, but we'll let that one go.)
The vintage boy band's first album in 14 years, The Block, was preceded by the cheesy single "Summertime," but for the most part, the song doesn't represent NKOTB 2.0 (or 3.0 if you remember their attempt at street cred with 1994's Face the Music). The quintet has adopted the all-grown-up-so-take-me-seriously suit-and-tie style of former boy bander Justin Timberlake, and from the very first track, the understated Akon-assisted slow jam "Click Click Click," there's a decidedly more adult approach at play here. Of course, they also co-opt JT's urban pop sound (see the new-new jack-n'-jill swing of "Grown Man," a duet with the Pussycat Dolls, and "Big Girl Now," featuring Lady Gaga) and The Block falters when the New Kids try to have it both ways: "Full Service" employs a timely but puerile gas station metaphor for sex (that or NKOTB represent the last shreds of romantic chivalry and just want to ease your pain at the pump) and they show their age by pretending it's still 1987 on "Dirty Dancing" ("Ooh, it's so crazy/She's like Baby/I'm like Swayze"). Then again, that reference won't be lost on the album's target audience.
Adding a sixth voice to a NKOTB song (as they do on "Single," featuring Ne-Yo—who sounds noticeably nasal and unrefined alongside the group's seasoned harmonies) seems completely gratuitous, to say nothing of two pairings with the Pussycat Dolls—though "Lights, Camera, Action" at least makes for the fantastical possibility of a 10-popstar group sex tape. It's not until the very end of the album that we get something that even remotely resembles a schmaltzy adult contemporary ballad ("Stare at You"), but after 40 minutes of pandering to urban audiences and modern trends (Autotune is used on almost every track), it's actually a welcome change of pace.