I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a Will Young album before. Sure, I’ve enjoyed many of the singles in his ten year(!) career, and picking up his recent hits collection was a great decision. But he’s always been a bit… I don’t know, I just didn’t feel compelled to listen to an album. But it sounded like he was going in a dancier direction with the lead single Jealousy, so I gave it a bash.
10 Jealousy – I LOVE that gentle intro with the barely-there piano in the background. For a bit of a downer of a song, it’s got a great sound to it, quite uplifting (if bittersweet) dance. That chorus is soaring and wonderful and his voice has plenty of power to keep on top of the production. It just has lovely respites, that “I’m tired of waiting” middle-8 is really gorgeous. Might go as far as saying this is his best single to date.
08 Come on – This isn’t going to be a cheery album is it? He always has this sad tone to his voice, really suits him (not that I want him to be miserable). I keep revisiting this chorus in my mind, which is strange as I don’t think it’s a particularly memorable song. It’s chosen as the second single nonetheless, so I guess I’ll have to get used to it. I like the stuttering beat, and the extra layers of production that emerge later in the song. But it does suffer from being a less-good relative of Jealousy.
07 Lie next to me – More morose falsetto now. While I think it really fits, I do worry it’ll be a bit of a drag over a whole album. This is a bit of a drag, with less of a catchy chorus than the previous track. It’s alright but that’s about it.
07 I just want a lover – Got a bit of a beat going on now, sounds a bit dated somehow though, like it’s something Texas would do (maybe I’m being guided by the title’s similarity to I don’t want a lover – even though it’s totally opposite). The verses are a bit monotone, but the chorus has the makings of something better than we end up with. A nice change of pace, and a glimmer of hope that the dancier sound will arrive after all.
09 Runaway – Ooh thats a nice bassline, this is more like it. Disaffected Will is still here, adding to what feels like a bit of an cold album. A summer release feels like it might have been a slight miscalculation. Chorus reminds me of several things, maybe something Royksopp or Ladytron might do in one of their more commercial moments. Smoothly executed, and doesn’t lay it on too think as a dance track.
07 Outsider – Well, that didn’t last long. Back to and even more bare-bones acoustic piano ballad. Starts off a bit dirgey but the second half has a bit more passion behind it. Quite short though, wonder what it could have been if it was a bit longer.
07 Silent Valentine – To be honest, I switched off a bit until the first chorus. It’s an Adele-inspired minimal ballad with his voice carrying a lot of the responsibility. His tone is distinctive and smooth as ever, though there’s not much to the chorus hook. It’s alright but I’m not in a big rush to hear it again. The “eh oh eh oh” middle-8 is rather lovely though.
08 Losing myself – Ooh synths, what’s going to happen? Not a GREAT deal, but it’s a decent uptempo. It gets rather good in the second half, those synths really do add something that’s been missing from some of these tracks, has more of a richer sound than some of the previous tracks. Still not setting me on fire but it’s plenty listenable.
08 Personal Thunder – Bit of a paranoid start, that giddy unsettling production at the start sets a strange mood. The vocals on this one capture my attention more than other tracks, not sure why, maybe it’s the minimal sections in the verses that highlight the lyrics. I’d probably moot this as another single if he bothers with a third one. Does stretch for quite a while but it doesn’t outstay its welcome.
06 Hearts on fire – While I do like the beat that chugs into view after the first minute, the banal lyrics in the chorus and the boring nursery-rhyme melody that goes with it are just a bit BLAH. It’s like a generic template version of this album: uninspiring ballad vs subtle dance beat. Personal Thunder could have got away with a 5-minute runtime but this can’t. Fi-yerrrr.
07 Happy now – Happy now? Is he REALLY? I’m not convinced after 10 tracks of rather downbeat vocals, but let’s go with it. He doesn’t SOUND that happy, just listing some things that typically make people, hokey things like sunsets, you know. It’s alright, but it’s going to need something more exciting than this to redeem this album from dinner-party background music (which in its defence it would do well).
07 Good Things – Ooh naff 80s beat now! Doesn’t feel a million miles away from many tracks on here – can’t quite put my finger on exactly which one this reminds me of, there is quite a degree of overlap on this album. It’s competently handled but loses its way after the first chorus. Might have been better higher in the tracklisting, by this point it does feel a bit too repetitive. There’s some 80s track the bridge really reminds me of, gah!
07 Safe from harm – Another standard issue dance beat, though somehow different, like it was nicked from Scissor Sisters or something. His deep voice works on the verses, but that shrill chorus isn’t quite doing it for me. That chorus badly reminds me of some 80s track too… I have no idea. a decent note to go out on, if anything this album doesn’t go out with a snooze. OK it’s not perfect, but let’s just be grateful.
Well I realise my tone was quite negative, but it’s an enjoyable enough listen – if you aren’t listening to it intently. It’s great undisruptive background music with a few really good songs in there. That’s not meant as an insult, there’s a place for this kind of music, and on my headphones while I’m at work seems to be a great place for that. I can’t say I’m particularly excited by the prospect of listening to another Will album, but he’s still an artist with clearly defined styles and an asset to British music.
Keepers for the iPod: Jealousy, Runaway, Personal Thunder