Groan. Snore. Snooze. If any recent band reformation screams 'desperation', it's New Kids On the Block's. Like most pop bands - especially those whose heyday languishes in the late '80s/early '90s, along with leg-warmers and Naff-Naff bomber jackets - there can't be any good reason for the Boston band to regroup apart from the trill of the cash register. By all means, though, if Take That can make a success of it, why can't Joey, Jordan, Jon, Danny and Donnie?
It only takes one listen of 'The Block', however (the group's fifth studio album, and first since 1994's 'Face the Music') to understand the cynicism behind this endeavour. It's a turgid, bland and incredibly embarrassing attempt at aligning themselves with the current chart climate, especially in the States: in other words, a cheap-sounding mess of r 'n' b-tainted piffle.
Despite a bevy of guest performers/producers (Ne-Yo, Pussycat Dolls, Teddy Riley and Timbaland amongst them), The Block fails to ignite at any point; a concoction of smooth, synthesised beats and basic melodies, most of the tracks here are disjointed, unremarkable affairs that serve no purpose other than to highlight the fact that NKOTB are terrible songwriters, who now rely on studio devices to provide them with so-called 'talent'.
There's no point in even singling out individual songs for criticism - apart from the passable Twisted and lead single Summertime, The Block consists of one awful musical cliche after another. Lyrically, new depths are plumbed on the likes of Dirty Dancing ("Ooh, it's so crazy, she's like Baby and I'm Swayze") and cheesy ballad Stare At You ("I can't lose when I'm caught in your eyes / I'm like Superman, got me up in the sky"). Even as mainstream pop albums go, this is really, really bad. Seriously - don't bother. It'll just ruin the memories.