Years ago girls screamed for five puppetlike street kids from Boston, as the pale-skinned quintet New Kids on the Block ventured into the malls and lockers of the world's pubescent youth. Today, the New Kids' legend is a joke, resting somewhere between Leif Garret and The Bay City Rollers in cultural significance. Odd, then, that the group's strongest voice should choose to return now, after all these years. And to do it as a credible new-jack Romeo under the able twiddling of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (they who made a once-peppy Janet Jackson seem nasty)? Scary, indeed.
But Jordan Knight is as slick a soul platter as any, pulling more from the old-school Peabo-style of crooning than the salacious goading of current radio fodder. "Give It to You" percolates from break-beat to salsa to (no kidding) carnival twirl, while new single "Close My Eyes" borrows heavily from a Kansas refrain and nearly melts in its midtempo, soft guitar strum. It starts to get routine after a bit, but even so, who would have thought there would be any routine left for Jordan Knight?