Album: The Wanted – “Word of Mouth” (2013)

Well I guess it was always on the cards, and the writing was probably on the wall with the tepid reception to their second album “Battleground”, and their string of fleeting singles that led up to their third album.  The Wanted are going on ‘hiatus’ after a tour to support this album, though that’s probably it, isn’t it?

the wanted word of mouthA shame really, they are one of my favourite boybands of recent years, and showed repeated flashes of brilliance. They’re a lot more up my street than One Direction anyway – and yes, I know it seems impossible to mention one without the other despite a lack of any other connection, but it’s a fairly empty market for boybands.

Having hit paydirt with an international hit, “Glad you came”, the potential for global fame was too much, and The Wanted join the long list of British pop groups who spread themselves too thin for the cause of a US crossover, and paid the price. But let’s not dwell on this doom and gloom, they might still get their tops off (or more) for a charity shoot. Not to mention, their latest album is actually rather good, and exactly the album I wanted them to make.

08 We own the night – Let’s kick off with a catchy but ultimately shallow crowd-pleaser. That’s an infectious melody, but is this all people have to aspire to for their life’s work? That people thought you were fun at parties? Weirdly the less depressing thought is that this is just a cynical attempt to sell a song to dysfunctional teens who only live for getting hammered. That said, I do still like it, it’s just a good pop song!

07 In the middle – What other markets should they pursue? Maybe let’s go for a more mature Take That-loving audience with some urgent strings and talk of rocky but passionate relationships. In some ways it’s like a successor to debut #1 “All time low”, albeit one that’s not as strong. Still a good sound to this one anyway.

08 Running out of reasons – Americans are behind this one, but I hope I’d be forgiven for thinking it sounds like a Westlife midtempo from their early years. There’s something quite comfortable about this MoR sound, I think it suits their vocals well. Undemanding stuff but it’s solid stuff.

10 I found you – I wasn’t initially too sure about this club-banger rehash of the “Glad you came” sound but this is now one of my favourites. That rampant falsetto took a while to make sense, but it sets it apart from the safer stuff heard so far. Pulsing and catchy, I really like this.

08 Show me love (America) – Alarms were going off when this tanked, even with an X-Factor performance slot. It’s fairly unextraordinary to start with, but that chorus really got stuck in my head. Even the bridge is good stuff, some of the songs might be a bit identikit but they so far all suit the guys. I appreciate their different voices all get an airing on most songs too.

10 Walks like Rihanna – Oh now where to start on this one? Cheesy as Gorgonzola but my God that’s a catchy pop song, with some really gorgeous chords in the verses. The single was a little misguided with its boyband pastiche video, but I just LOVE this song.

09 Summer alive – Now this is more what I was hoping for from them, they hadn’t quite given up the hope of another dance-pop crossover hit to scale the heights of “Glad you came”. This is about as close as they’ve come though, with a hot bit of Europop. The verses perhaps let it down a bit, they’re a bit TOO simple, but it’s hard to argue with that chorus. It’s like an old Oakenfold track or something.

07 Love sewn – The ordering of this album is a bit erratic, we’ve got a slow-burning ballad sandwich between two club tracks. It’s rather good though, another whiff of Take That in a good way. Max gets the lion’s share of vocals it seems, and it works well. That simple synthy hook is good, even if the track isn’t quite a standout.

09 Glow in the dark – Apparently the final single, and another clubby track. I really like it, very late-90s Ibiza but with some modern dub-steppy twists. Doesn’t quite have the warmth of some of their other tracks but still enjoyable. Not that there’s much to risk on this next single but it’s as good a pick as any.

07 Demons – This feels fairly familiar as faintly-urban “I’m a champion” stuff we’ve been getting from the Tinchy Styders and Dappys of the day, even if it’s more of an R’n’B sound this time. Again it’s not much to really get excited about but there’s another memorable chorus supported by a good bridge.

07 Could this be love – Another MoR midtempo, as the boys take turns to reel off things they’d do for love. Cheesy as hell but there’s yet another solid chorus in its core. It sort of sounds like a Lawson track more than anything, inoffensive and even a little bit good. A good example of modern-day boybands-with-guitars fluff.

06 Everybody knows – Max lives with the guy from Lawson doesn’t he? I guess they must have the same vocal coach too. A bit of a naff track about having a heart broken very publically. It’s a bit of a plodder, I think the cheese and earnest boybanding overwhelms this one a bit.

07 Heartbreak story – Who sings that first bit, are they doing an Adele impression? Musically it sounds like they are looking in that direction anyway, a timid little ballad with little more than a piano and a few string flourishes for company. It’s a nice ballad really, I never thought they’d have the subtlety for this sort of thing, but it works out rather nicely.

08 Chasing the sun – I think this was the first single from this lengthy campaign, thrown out as a new track for their debut American album, and a momentum-keeper for the UK. Written by Example, it’s another dance song tacked on as a bonus track but feels like a more appropriate closing track for them if this is their last release. A bit blunt with the simplest chorus imaginable, but a solid single to finish.

So there we have it. A bit of a higgledy-piggledy mix of tracks, spanning a fairly broad pop spectrum. This scattergun approach hits more than it misses though, and they succeed for me where less likeable boybands wouldn’t have.

It’s a shame this is probably it, but they’ve left a pretty solid catalogue of singles, and that’s something to be grateful for.



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