Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Backstreet Boys: Backstreet Boys [Jive, 1997]
I'm not claiming I would have gotten the message without a 13-year-old I know broadcasting it from her boombox. But keynoted by two guaranteed pop classics, one dance and one heart, this is genius teensploitation. I give half credit to songwriter-svengali Max Martin, who's put in time with Ace of Base. But as someone who still suspects Abba were androids, I award the other half to the Boys, without whose sincere if not soulful simulations of soul and sincerity Martin's slow ones would be as sickening as any other promise that's made to be broken. Together the team manufactures a juicy sexual fantasy for virgins who get nervous when performers grab their dicks and think it's gross when teenage ignoramuses copy the move. They deserve one. After all, it is gross. A-