New Kids on the Block Still Kids art

New Kids on the Block – Still Kids (Album Review)

New Kids on the Block 2024 photo

If you were alive in the late 1980s, no matter your musical preferences, New Kids on the Block were undeniably one of the biggest, most successful Pop acts around. Discounted by some as a boy band (and technically, they would not be wrong), New Kids on the Block were the counterpart of earlier acts of their ilk such as New Edition. Ironically enough, they were actually discovered by acclaimed Producer/Songwriter Maurice Starr, the same gentleman who helped launch New Edition. Starr, a massive part of both acts’ early success, with New Kids on the Block, wrote and produced the majority of their first three mega studio albums; 1986’s New Kids on the Block, 1988’s Hangin’ Tough, and 1990’s Step by Step.

Factors worth recounting, it also cannot be ignored that the 5 young guys who made up New Kids on the Block (at their peak between the ages of 16 and 20 years old) had their own unique talent and qualities to offer the group. Furthermore, anyone who actually paid attention to what they were doing, beyond the glitz and glam, were aware that these dudes could actually sing. Beyond this, digging into their early records, they had some really mature sounding love songs that could appeal to more than just teenagers; such as “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” and “Please Don’t Go Girl” in ’88, plus others like “Tonight” from ’90. So, what is the main point here? It is that New Kids on the Block were legitimately good and the stigmata of being teeny boppers was a bit unfair. Yes, they did pave the way for others like them who came a decade later such as Backstreet Boys and NSYNC… but there is really only one New Kids on the Block.

All these factors in mind, after releasing Face the Music in 1994, they opted to explore other avenues, and each found a new path to success – Jordan Knight, Danny Wood, as well as Joey McIntyre as solo artists, Donnie Wahlberg as an actor, all while Jonathan Knight did so in a more relaxed, outside the public limelight lifestyle. Then, over a decade later, the guys reunited, toured, released their comeback album The Block in 2008, followed by 10 in 2013. A really great story of recapturing their early successes with an audience that had grown with them, they have continued to perform live consistently since, but now in 2024, return with a brand-new studio album entitled Still Kids.

Released on May 17th through BMG, their first album in over a decade, a follow up to the 2017 EP Thankful, but also comes just around 30 years after their initial parting ways. This in mind, a lot has changed over the years, but what has not changed is that New Kids on the Block seem dedicated to presenting themselves in a respectful, dignified manner. What this means is with Still Kids they sound modern – in terms of production and some Pop tendencies – but they also do not completely sell themselves down the river to appease any particular current trends. Refreshing and a relief, the last thing anyone would want to hear is New Kids on the Block trying to sound like whatever may be popular at this time, and completely losing their identity in the process.

Instead, they opted to team together to co-produce Still Kids with a select group of others to make an album that is fresh, mature, and full of memorable songs. Now, it goes without question that this is a pretty straight forward Pop album, but you can hear elements of other genres in here too; including Synthpop, Rock, and even some Disco. All there if you listen closely, the production itself is pretty polished, but there are also elements of old school New Kids in some tracks which is fun to hear.

With this, they also create a sound on Still Kids that may appeal to those who enjoy more recent Pop artists like Capital Cities, Fitz and the Tantrums, or even something from Ed Sheeran. Just select comparisons to give you an idea of the direction of the music, some of the boldest moments on this new album transpire on the mellower “A Love Like This,” the catchy “Dance With You,” and absolute must listen to “In The Night.” Beyond these, there are also “Runaway” and “Old School Love” (featuring the fantastic vocals of Taylor Dayne), which are equally quite enjoyable.

Amidst everything there are plenty more interesting pieces that will not turn off older fans, nor turn away any new ones. For further insight, you probably will not be able to resist the Hip Hop leaning “Get Down,” which features DJ Jazzy Jeff, plus an ever-present sample from the Diana Ross 1980 hit “Upside Down.” In all, the vibe is cool, smooth, and filled with Pop, R&B, among the other aforementioned styles intertwined in each song.

When it is all said and done New Kids on the Block did not just make a record for the sake of it, but really put all of themselves into the recordings. You can tell they had a blast doing this and, in the process, show they are still highly talented, engaging performers. That is why Cryptic Rock commend their work, giving Still Kids 4 out of 5 stars. 

New Kids on the Block Still Kids
New Kids on the Block -Still Kids / BMG (2024)

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