...wants to be sophisticated and cutting edge, but in reality it is achingly safe.
Jack Jewers 2007
Teen sensations All Angels have officially been the Next Big Thing™ in classical music since they fluttered onto the scene in the summer of 2006. Their eponymous debut went platinum in a matter of weeks, and they were soon doing everything expected of photogenic prodigies since Charlotte Church swapped communion wine for the harder stuff. Nominated for a Classical Brit? Tick. Performed for the Queen? Tick. Wear matching white outfits and release a cover of Robbie Williams’ "Angels"? Tick, tick, tick.
Now they’re back with Into Paradise, another eclectic mix of pop-classical fusion, only this time with a more elegiac slant. Requiems, spirituals and even a couple of break-up songs sit alongside a more familiar array of classical pieces. But while All Angels are undeniably talented vocalists, the slickness of this album far exceeds any aspiration it has to be taken seriously.
The most striking track is a hauntingly stripped-down rendition of "In Paradisum" (Latin for 'into paradise' – see what they did there?) Mercifully under-produced, it is a perfect showcase for their subtlety as performers. Similarly adept, if predictable, are "Pie Jesu" and "Sancte Deus" (from Nimrod.)
But while they do a pretty good job of making Faure’s Requiem sound heavenly, a special level of hell should be reserved for whoever chose to throw in choral renderings of Coldplay’s "The Scientist" and Sinead O’Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U". All traces of feeling have been ironed out of these teen poetry whine-athons, and the addition of some overwrought orchestration does nothing to lift their terminal dreariness.
Not all of the pop choices fall flat, however. A harmonised version of Simon and Garfunkels’ "The Sound of Silence" manages to draw out the song's charming 60s idealism with a well-judged lightness of touch.
Into Paradise so desperately wants to be sophisticated and cutting edge, but in reality it is achingly safe. But if there's one thing that really frustrates about listening to this album, it’s the feeling that we’ve been here before. If All Angels have any higher ambitions than this, then their material will have to grow up with them.