Apparently 36 million albums sold divided by five members earned Backstreet Boy Nick Carter enough money to squeeze a pity solo release out of his record label. It’s not clear what decade Carter thinks he’s currently living in—the aptly titled Now or Never is one part Savage Garden (lead single “Help Me”), one part Bryan Adams (“Do I Have to Cry for You”), one part Richard Marx (“Who Needs the World”) and one part Def Leppard-meets-Shaggy (the thoroughly embarrassing “Girls in the USA”). It’s not a lack of identity, really. Carter actually knows exactly who he is: a former pin-up boy-band member with nowhere to go. Surprisingly, the unabashedly European Max Martin & Rami (responsible for much of the teen-pop boom) provide some much needed relief with the retro “I Got You” and “Blow Your Mind,” with its Kraftwerk-style synths and crunchy electric guitars. Though it exposes some harrowing truths (“I was raised by the television/Jerry Springer was my dad/And it wouldn’t matter if Martha Stewart was my mother/And Aaron Carter was my brother/Cause I’d still be bad/I’m a product of a nation”), the Carter-penned “Is It Saturday Yet?” begs only one question: “Is it over yet?” This is what happens when a manufactured toy escapes from the plant.
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