The Block

The catchiest tune on The Block is ‘Summertime’, and in dignity terms it’s Cohen-meets-Waits compared to their hyperactive teen-pop of old.

Oh no! Surely not. Haughey was in power the last time this lot were popular. Think about that for a moment. Haughey. Broken down Datsuns. Quinnsworth. Guaranteed World Cup football. These things were all a long time ago.

And so were New Kids On The Block. So why return now, when the boyband blueprint that they nailed from the start is as relevant as a Marathon bar?

Up-to-the-minute production values help. That’s Timbaland on ‘Twisted’ and ‘One Song’; Polow Da Don and RedOne elsewhere. And there’s The Pussycat Dolls on ‘Grown Man’. The list of collaborators is a mile long. It all amounts to an R’n’B sheen no more or less offensive than anything ‘N Sync ever carried off. But that was a long time ago too.

Maybe that’s the point: they’re as convincing a modern pop act as any, despite the Reservoir Dogs look on the back cover; despite Donnie Wahlberg’s talk of The Block offering “redemption for the fans”. The fans are older now. How patiently have they been waiting?

No matter. There’s a Boyzone reunion on these days, and they don’t seem to be doing too badly. The catchiest tune on The Block is ‘Summertime’, and in dignity terms it’s Cohen-meets-Waits compared to their hyperactive teen-pop of old: a sunny urban ballad driven by a sharp synth line. Making few promises to begin with, The Block doesn’t claim to be a brash return to the throne but more of a slotting into place.

Key track: ‘Summertime’

 

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