A fantastic fifth album from a Pop Idol who continues to deliver the goods.
Ian Wade 2011-08-12
Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of Will Young participating in the more innocent, pre-X Factor Pop Idol, the show he won at the start of 2002. It landed him on Planet Pop with a carefully stage-managed precision that has since seen a decade of hopefuls either make it (Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke, JLS) or crash and burn before a stint on whatever other reality show will have them.
Young was vastly superior to his nearest rival at the time of his breakthrough, Gareth Gates (who came unstuck approximately 18 months into his music career), and come his second album – 2003’s Friday’s Child, featuring the brilliant single Leave Right Now – he’d grabbed hold of every aspect of his music, taking control so as not to suffer a similar fate. From then he knocked out two more albums, issued a greatest hits compilation in 2009, and recently worked with Groove Armada on the dance duo’s 2010 LP Black Light.
For his fifth album, representing something of a new chapter for Young following his best-of set, he has teamed up with super-producer Richard X – the man behind past hits for Saint Etienne, M.I.A., Kelis and Goldfrapp. But it was actually the X-produced Steve Mason album, 2010’s much-acclaimed Boys Outside, which prompted Young to seek him out in the first place. The results suggest he was exceedingly wise to do so, as Echoes is a triumph.
Throughout these 13 tracks, while never taking a wild leap into gabba territory, X brings subtle elements of dancefloor delights present and future into arrangements complementing Young’s tunes of love, longing and regret, making this a high quality affair all round. The hands-aloft joyousness of lead single Jealousy is just one of the highpoints; other moments of magic come along with Silent Valentine, which sounds like a giant hit you feel you’ve known forever, and I Just Want a Lover is a foxy boo-hoo-beneath-the-mirrorball future classic.
And standouts continue to present themselves. Losing Myself sounds like a mid-80s Climie Fisher keytar-and-crap-hair turbo ballad. He sounds completely at home in the environs of Lie Next to Me, while the chimes and cowbells of Good Things sound like something Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis may have handed out to someone with fierce shoulder pads in 1985 (in other words, it’s amazing).
Echoes is a fantastic, perfectly crafted adult pop album for people who’ve long wondered if such a thing existed anymore. It deserves to be reasonably enormous. Bravo, Will.