The Spice Girls and carried forward by the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, with record companies scrambling to find their own clear-skinned, smiling adolescents (singing and dancing ability optional, will train), why not look back ten years to the last teen pop trend and see if any of them can be repackaged? Enter Joey McIntyre (not to mention Jordan Knight), formerly of the New Kids on the Block, who, for those of you too young to remember 1989, were the Backstreet Boys of their time. McIntyre, the youngest of the quintet of singing, dancing, cute white-boys-with-soul from Boston, is now 26 years old, which is a bit long in the tooth for this business. But those teeth are gleaming white in the video for the title track from this, his debut solo album, as he emotes sincerely in front of a black gospel choir. McIntyre doesn't need to be told what to do. He knows to alternate dance numbers and ballads. He knows that the lyrics have to be first-person declarations of love and support directed at an intended adolescent or younger female audience. He doesn't need a Svengali to craft such greeting-card sentiments for him, either (though fellow ex-NKOTB Donnie Wahlberg pitches in), as can be seen from his co-writing credits on songs with titles like "Couldn't Stay Away From Your Love," "I Can't Do Without You," and "The Way That I Loved You" for the ballads and "Give It Up" and "We Can Get Down" (plagiarism alert: sounds a lot like "Grease") for the dance songs. Of course, it's all contrived, derivative, and formulaic, but that doesn't matter. The question is whether McIntyre can still come across as a teen dream, now that he's over 21 and by himself. And the answer is -- maybe. "Stay the Same" (he loves you just the way you are) quickly hit the Top Ten, and the album went gold, but as spring turned to summer, McIntyre slipped down the charts as the Backstreet Boys renewed their reign with Millennium. (He probably should have released "One Night" as the second single, even though it might be considered actionable by the authors of "Groovin'" and "Just My Imagination," since its lazy groove could have made it the single of the summer, instead of going with "I Love You Came Too Late.") There is only so much room on those bedroom walls, after all, and it's not clear that this Old Kid is quite cute enough to make the cut.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
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