If you stuck it out until the final minutes of
's mock-disaster movie "This Is the End," you know what awaits you in heaven: a private cloud-top Backstreet Boys concert.
The quintet's new album, "In a World Like This," isn't quite that celestial. But it does make a case that the Boys' talents — particularly when paired with the magic wand of longtime songwriter Max Martin — will survive almost any pop-culture apocalypse.
For Backstreet-philes, the record is notable for Kevin Richardson's first return to recording with the group since his 2006 departure. Single "Permanent Stain" is a capably pristine bit of Euro-trance, made regal with gang-vocal harmonies. The title track almost has an indie-rock lean to it, with an acoustic guitar jangle melting into synthesized grandeur. Ballads such as "Show 'Em (What You're Made Of)" prove they have grown-man chops to go beyond the usual contemporary club fare.
Is anything here going to be as iconic in their catalog as "Everybody"? Probably not. But there are far worse records than this to greet you at the pearly gates.
"In a World Like This"
Two and a half stars (out of four)