The Backstreet Boys were the primary sensation of the late-1990s boy-band craze, and their fourth record bears the title NEVER GONE. It is an almost defiant proclamation for a group that held five years of silence since its last release, but it is also a truly fitting title. While the musical winds had inevitably changed since 2000's BLACK & BLUE, there's always room for winsome, well-crafted pop and this fivesome still know how to effortlessly wrap their charming harmonies around a sweet pop concoction.
NEVER GONE opens on a majestic note with the subtly complex "Incomplete," an aching ballad with an imperial piano-and-strings backing that falls somewhere between Five For Fighting and Nickelback. From there the record presents compositions as attractive as the pastoral settings on the album's cover, which the Backstreet Boys instill with the same soft-burning passion for which they've become known. Whether on the driving pop of "Just Want You To Know," the throwback soul of "Weird World," the modern funk of "Poster Girl," or the earnest and reflective folk of "Safest Place to Hide," the Backstreet Boys have a keen ear for melody and the comfortable ease of singers who have played off each other for a decade. NEVER GONE continues the legacy of the best boy band around.