At their best, the Backstreet Boys build the sweetest pop of any boy band around. And on "In a World Like This" (BMG), their first album as a quintet since 2005's "Never Gone," thanks to Kevin Richardson's return, they continue the tradition. On the title track and the new single "Breathe," Backstreet rides strong hooks and a touch of melancholy to create some memorable new sing-alongs, while the soulful "Try" is a nice surprise. Unfortunately, there are too many poorly worded choruses ("Permanent Stain") and too much greeting-card sap ("One Phone Call") to take the whole project seriously. "This" could've been a great EP.
"In a World Like This"
THE GRADE C+
BOTTOM LINE A wildly uneven welcome back to full strength