Nick Carter

Now or Never

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Released within the same month that fellow teen-popsters Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake made their bid for street-cred and adult stardom, Nick Carter's Now or Never finds the Backstreet Boys singer hewing closely to his band's signature sound for his solo debut. There are certainly a couple of indications that Carter would like be considered as the adult he is, but instead of radically shifting musical direction and public persona, he's taking it easy, letting some newer beats filter into the rhythms and delving into some stronger sexual entendres. Ultimately, these are small, subtle shifts -- especially compared to Xtina's Stripped and JT's Justified -- which means that this is more musically familiar, if less interesting. It holds together better than Stripped (then again, most records do) but pales in comparison to the best of Justified, whose slinky funk seems at once modern and classic. Now or Never, on the other hand, feels largely stuck in 2000, and while the sound is good and the production is consistent throughout, it feels slightly dated and doesn't have enough memorable material (only the ever reliable Max Martin's "I Just Wanna Take You Home" cuts through the murk) to make much of an impression. Say what you will about his fellow aging teen pop idols -- they may have fallen on their face or made awkward strides forward, but at least it was interesting. Here, Nick Carter stays on his feet and makes a largely forgettable record.

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