Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Wanted Album Review ♥

Found this little beauty, and although it has a few moans, its a pretty awesome review, and I'm not going to lie....the last bit made me laugh....because its true. 
*hides from heaps of hideous JLS 'bling' being thrown at me*
...I know it looks long, but it was actually quite a good read, good writer I say.
Album Review: The WANTED - 'The WANTED'

Just look at that album cover, eh? It looks like they've just wogged a couple of million and are staring down the onlookers. No seriously, Max even has a carpet bag on his lap and Nathan is desperately trying to close the door. Can you not see? Jay's over-doing the 'sexual-but-serious' look, too.
With boybands' popularity finally being rebooted thanks to a certain weekly reality TV show on about this time of year, The WANTED's rise to fame couldn't have been timed better. After mass-auditioning, Max, Nathan, Tom, Siva and Jay formed The WANTED and soon after, they were treated to studio time with some of the biggest writers in the music business. They've worked with Guy Chambers (the man behind Robbie William's solo success), five-time Ivor Novello Award-winning songwriter Cathy Dennis, all-round hit maker Greg Kurstin, and producer of more than twenty UK #1 singles, Steve Mac.
After completing the album, the boys went on an unprecedented promotional tour around UK schools, performing Live on many TV shows, and even got themselves a slot at the Summertime Ball. And once their début single, the Ed Drewett-penned "All Time Low", "surprised" us all by entering straight into the UK Singles Chart at the #1 spot, it was established that boybands were well and truly back.
'All Time Low' did have an interesting quality to it, and the fact it was strangely very 'against the tide', yet at the same time instantly compelling brought The WANTED a lot of media attention. However, their second single, 'Heart Vacancy', was less original but even so, it was clear they were tearing up the textbook of How To Write A Standard Pop Single. But as for their début album, if you thought the majority of these big name writers would produce the best tracks, you're right, but it is in fact the songs later in the album - the ones that The WANTED have co-writing credits for - that prove there's a third dimension to their music, and that they’re not just "puppets" with people to write songs for them.
On the album, there's none of your typical boyband stuff, but thanks to that list of producers it's a very rare moment when you feel like any of the songs could be catchier. Album opener 'All Time Low' sets the tone for the album perfectly, with it's nu-rave crescendo production and internal lyrical rhymes. There are some really obvious future singles too, such as the wonderful 'Lose My Mind', complete with chiming piano melody and 'Use Somebody'-esque chanting, and 'Let's Get Ugly', an absolutely bizarre concept on paper but easily the clear standout of the album. Produced by Guy Chambers, it sample Ennio Morricone's 'The Good, The Bad & The Ugly'; sung with a seductively slurred vocal and lyrics that top even Ed Drewett’s slick hand on 'All Time Low' - "Now this girl's a gentle mental/Got perversions detrimental/But there's times I just don’t know what to do" and "With this Morricone music/There's now way you can refute it/But girl, you ain’t got nothing to lose" are just two examples. As you can tell, it's one huge smash in waiting.
Further down the track listing, keep an ear out for 'Say It On The Radio' - the first track the boys have co-writing credits on - another riotous stomper with a huge chorus hook and lead vocals provided by Tom, and 'Personal Soldier' (not a euphemism), another Guy Chambers track that’s The WANTED'’s take on anthem of unconditional, unrequited, and undying friendship, á la Katy Perry's 'Firework'. It may use a clichéd marching drum beat and commit the untold crime of adding a riff that consists of "Left, left/Left, right, left", but the 'Just The Way You Are'-esque piano that twinkles over it, accompanied by a beautiful synth melody in the chorus make it another brilliant track that screams "possible single".
By now, this album is shaping up to be one of the best pop albums of the year with it's huge-pop-hook-after-huge-pop-hook productions, but it's the raw vulnerability that Jay provides on 'Hi And Low' that makes you think twice about The WANTED as a simple, fabricated pop boyband who only produce simple, fabricated pop music. The restrained track uses only a piano and sounds like it was recorded in a Radio 2 Live session. It's completely natural and flowing, with Jay's vocals mixing seamlessly with the piano's rolling fifths, and the rest of the group harmonising beautifully during the chorus and toward the end, where a singular violin is added. However, 'Golden' is less convincing. Max's falsetto doesn't quite show the same natural sincerity in Jay's low-key vocal performance three tracks prior. 'Golden' does enforces the third dimension of the group, but it's chorus sounds forced and the triple-time lyrics sounds rushed, like Max is making them up as he goes along, and for a song that follows the mighty 'Say It On The Radio', you do lose quite a bit of momentum from The WANTED express.
Guy Chambers shines on the penultimate track too, 'Made' is an energetic, pulsing, The Killers-esque track that suits the boys brilliantly. And the song that was entirely penned by The WANTED, ‘Behind Bars', which may start like part of the Harry Potter 7 soundtrack, soon turns it's strings into a violently played pop production, and the song packs some very impressive vocal performances, particularly from Max, who bellows his way through the string-ridden song in a way that should make Robbie Williams scared, and final track 'A Good Day For Love To Die', echoes the sound of recent P!nk material with it's muted guitar riff and heavy drums.
Post Mortem
You only have to look at the production credits to see this album is going to consistently high in quality, but it's when you actually listen to what The WANTED are saying - not just in their lyrics - that makes it so much more enjoyable. For starters, any album over eleven tracks is bound to be riddled with fillers and some tracks that just don't 'work', but that's not the case with the thirteen track (fourteen, if you get the iTunes bonus track 'The Way I Feel', which sounds like a folk-y The Beatles demo, and well worth a download), eponymous effort from The WANTED. Where others would’ve suffered the fate of non-cohesion, The WANTED display versatility; where others would have about added three/four fillers on an album this long, The WANTED have just one ('Weakness', how apt), on which they still display excellent harmony, and where many, more experienced acts would've failed to keep the attention of their listeners for the entire duration of such a long album, The WANTED have crafted an album of fully engaging tracks from the start through to the finish.
I could be really cynical and say that, considering The WANTED's main demographic are armies of teenage girls who also like JLS, that because some of the tracks on this album are above the standard JLS could ever hope to release by the time Aston inevitably packs up and goes solo, some of the teenage girls who buy this album won't appreciate the quality of the tracks for what they are, but more for who's singing what at what point and squealing in high pitched voices which part is their favourite. But then again, I'm not a cynical person, so I won't bother mentioning it.
In retrospect, 'The WANTED' is an album that all good pop acts should hope to make; super-catchy, riddled with tonnes of hooks and plenty of choices for singles. There are moments of innovation on songs like 'Let's Get Ugly', which has easily the best sample of the year so far, or the eerie sub-bass of 'Say It On The Radio', and the harmonic, stripped down performance on 'Hi And Low', as well as moments that show us there's more to come from the boys, like the rockier tracks 'A Good Day For Love To Die', and 'The Way I Feel'. It's a very strong début effort regardless if you see them as "manufactured", and I've come to believe The WANTED aren't just here for fame and fortune like a certain other boyband I know, they're here for the music, and will no doubt sustain a career with decent longevity if their future albums match or better the standard this one sets

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