Arresting songs with masses of personality rub shoulders with formulaic fodder.
Fraser McAlpine 2010-10-25
There are signs of pop evolution at work within the genes of this lot. They’re not quite the shameless throwback to the glory days of the five-guys-in-a-line boyband that they would appear to be at first glance. These days a quintuple-headed singing troupe can’t get by on ballads, teen fans and cheekbones alone, and if the example of Take That has taught us anything, it’s that nowadays you can be a mainstream pop act and make music which appeals to every generation.
But you can’t win over your core audience by ripping off their dad’s CD collection. There need to be modern production touches, like Auto-Tune and rippling club synths; there need to be moments of stately wonder and beauty, but also some oddness and character. There need to be highs, and there need to be lows, and The Wanted has plenty of both.
Take the two singles released so far: All Time Low is a wonderful two-tempo affair – a slow song with a fast pulse – with clever lyrics and a cocksure sense of its own high worth. Heart Vacancy, on the other hand, is a rather more hangdog sort of a thing. It seems to be too fast and too slow, the lyrics are daft, and it clearly needs a few more harmonies to glue some of the bits of chorus together.
And this is how the album continues. Arresting songs, with masses of personality – like the swoony, choral High and Low, or the downright Wild Beasts-y Golden – sit next to the formulaic (but y’know, fine) Say It on the Radio or Personal Soldier: the very acme of nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Let’s Get Ugly deserves special applause then, for the sheer brass neck of taking the theme to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly by Ennio Morricone and writing a come-on song to a girl over the top. And they pull it off, too. Hopefully The Wanted’s second album will be even weirder, if only to protect the future of all boybandkind.