vendredi 11 novembre 2011

The Wanted's new album is called Battleground...

The Wanted's second album Battleground has been released last monday in the UK and I have just received my Deluxe Edition (with 5 poscards AND 4 bonus tracks) yesterday. Today, after a couple listens, I am ready to post my track by track review for it... Although it will take some time for me to forget about their first album's top quality to appreciate every single song on this new CD, I recommand it to anyone still in love with boysbands, or any girl who can have a crush on any of the five lads, or simply anyone who's a true pop addict. And here are 15 simple reasons :

1/ GLAD YOU CAME 3:18 10/10
The album opens perfectly with their summer #1 hit Glad you came and its beautiful acoustic intro chorus, sung by Max George alone. I said it all when I first posted about it in July but I think I will never get enough of this song even though it is very repetitive, with only one verse repeated after its first chorus, but with other boys on lead vocals. This Ibiza inspired dance/pop anthem has a joyous chant as bridge that makes every crowd sing along in concert and an addictive & festive beat you cannot escape. It is the first single released in France and I really hope it'll become the breakthrough hit the boys need here to reach more success.

2/ LIGHTNING 3:24 10/10
The next track is current single Lightning, and like its predecessor or The Wanted's first single All time low, it was written by Steve Mac & Wayne Hector with Ed Drewett. Lightning is another techno/pop song that combines pure pop song structure and brilliant upbeat chorus with electro dance arrangements and hypnotizing beats. The way the boys sing the pre-chorus lines is particularly sexy I feel, with the "Your skin, your touch, your kiss, the rush, too much..." and this part of the song has its own rhythm that got used as vocal bridge before final chorus, and I still feel the song's way too short. UK Charts' #2 hitsingle well deserved !

3/ WARZONE 3:38 9/10
There's a change of pace on next track and forthcoming single, Warzone, that gives its title to the album as its chorus includes the line "I gotta learn to say goodbye now, I throw my armour down and leave the battleground..." Its video has just premiered and it is a nice heartbreaking mid-tempo pop song -or uptempo ballad, as you want- where all the five boys share the vocals, even though Max George's lead is prominent on the chorus. He and Nathan Sykes co-wrote the song with its producer Harry Sommerdahl and Jack McManus, and I feel they both make the song their own, even though James 'Jay' McGuiness shares a complete verse too. It is not the song I would have chosen for next single myself, but I understand the tip, a big ballad to be released after Christmas in January to make their girlie fanbase's hearts melt and get a new number 1... I must admit that I'm waiting for the dance remixes to come as I can hear it gettin' remixed with ease !

4/ INVINCIBLE 3:10 10/10
Then comes the track I would have thought as next single first after one hearing, but sure it would have been too similar in sound to their two latest singles Glad you came and Lightning... because Invincible is a heavenly made dance/pop anthem with an electro rhythm that only echoes in the intro and really starts with the first chorus. In fact, the verses are very laid-back in rhythm but you can feel a silent pressure of the beat that is to come and get the whole song become his own. Once more, it is Max & Nathan that co-write it with the producer, thsi time Fabian 'Phat Fabe' Torsson (who did Weakness on their first album), although still with Jack McManus who gets credited for the strings, and I really think this one is no filler at all ! I so hope it'll be chosen as a further single 'cos it has H.I.T. written all over ! Mixed by Jeremy Wheatley, it doesn't even need any remix job done to fit discotheques, it is club perfect.

5/ LAST TO KNOW 3:34 7/10
Last to know sounds a lot different, having from its intro Jay going in some Massive Attack drum-n-bass territory, with a phatt beat and organic arrangements. Produced by a duo I don't know (Paro & Tortuga) and written by swedish people, this one is surely a song their record company proposed to them and had them fall in love for. It has a nice vibe I can't help but love, even though I first wondered where they were going...

6/ I'LL BE YOUR STRENGTH 3:25 10/10
Starting all acoustic with only a piano then vocals, I'll be your strength is a beautiful emotional ballad that Jay and Nathan co-wrote with producer Brian Higgins and his Xenomania cohort (a short Youtube post showed them at Brian Higgins' place after some recording session previously this year). I immediately fell in love with it, as it has an immediate attractive and touching effect when you listen to it, but I did wonder how it could be produced by the Xenomania team and not sound like their usual stuff (think Girls Aloud !). It is only with the song's bridge and with the start of the last third of the song that the rhythm is increasing and the vocals get stronger than ever to lift the calm ballad into a very powerful anthemic piece of art. I wish this one had been chosen as Christmas single !

7/ ROCKET 3:17 10/10
With All time low gettin' remixed this year for example, The Wanted boys are seemingly intending to breakthrough America and Rocket looks like a new step in that direction, being produced by US top producer Christopher 'Tricky' Stewart and being a song written by none other than chartmaker Diane Warren ! And like the boys are used to, their Rocket sounds like a power-ballad, a lot more pop/rock than the first dance/pop tracks of the CD, and it doesn't miss a strong single potential neither... The lyrics seem fitted for the boys and their goal at universal fame and global success. It is the perfect anthemic feel-good song and it showcases brilliantly the boys' vocal abilities too with the chorus seeing them going into very high notes. This is another one that could very easily be receiving some remix treatment on a single release, while I'll be your strength would be harder for remixers to work on, me think...

8/ I WANT IT ALL 3:21 7,5/10
Guy Chambers is back on board on this one, after he already produced some tracks of their eponyme first album, and it is Siva Kaneswaren who's on co-writing credit (along his brother Daniel) and most vocals, and I want it all starts like I'll be your strength, as an organic beautiful emotional ballad, and I feel it could lead into something else... but it fails to evolve into anything else and leaves me a little in hunger for more ; It is nice and pleasant and emotional and all, but I feel it misses something else that could have elevated the song a little higher. Siva doesn't fail on this one though and his vocals are stronger than ever, even though I think they are not recognizable like Max or Jay's.

9/ THE WEEKEND 3:08 9,5/10
The boys must have felt that string of pop/rock mid-tempos would bore me a little and with The weekend, they bring the beat and the techno sounds back ! This time, it is Tom parker and once again Nathan Sykes that co-write this song with their producer Chris Young (who did Personal soldier on their first album) and it starts with a techno sound that reminded me of the intro of Simone Angel's Let this feeling 1993 dance hit, but finally doesn't sound sampled at all after checking it back... The first verse is all calm and moody, with the electro rhythm in the background increasing little by little until it finally explodes with the chorus, but it is not as strong as it should've been, I feel. The lyrics are sexy and raucnhy though and could easily make their fans scream and wet their pants for sure, but I think it is the music, and not the words on this one, that makes it memorable enough.

10/ LIE TO ME 3:44 9/10
Lie to me's intro returns into smooth and sticky mid-tempo like Last to know was, but when comes the chorus, you get a ful powerful pop/rock anthem in your face, one you cannot escape and love or adore for sure ! This one is co-written by Tom Parker with producer Eliott Kennedy and some Steelworks partners, and it sounds like the perfect hit Westlife would have been dyin' to record for their split final album.

11/ GOLD FOREVER 3:58 10/10
The normal CD ends with the first single The Wanted released from it, Gold forever for the Comic Relief in March 2011 and gave them a #3 in the UK charts. The song still sounds good and it is a nice way to end their album with an old hit their fans hadn't on their first album. This one was another Steve Mac / Wayne Hector written hit, although with Claude Kelly and not Ed Drewett, and the first in line of the boys' techno/pop string of hits. Starting all smooth and calm, Gold forever evolves into a powerful addictive dance song where Max George's vocals shine all through it. I'll sure still be listening to it in a couple years ahead !

12/ DAGGER 3:49 9,5/10
But the need I had to buy the Deluxe Edition CD was not to possess the five boys' postcard, but the bonus tracks that were included after that initial 11 songs tracklisting, and the first is an uplifting dance/pop song that Siva and Nathan co-wrote with ex Pete Waterman partner Andrew Frampton, who's on production duties along his brother Dan on the mix. Dagger has some mid-tempo verses but a very strong chorus with a furious rhythm you cannot escape. Siva's vocals, when not mixed with others, do sound a bit light on this one though, and that may be the reason why it had been relegated as a bonus track only...

13/ ROCK YOUR BODY 3:54 9/10
Rock your body sees the five lads of The Wanted all reunite on co-writing credits, and back with Chris Young, on production too. The song has beautiful string arrangements but still relies a lot on heavy dance rhythm, so it is all in all a nice mix package, with good joyful vocals by all five boys, the kind of song they will happily sing in concert, jumping and shouting in between to make the crowd react ; a good album track, but not good enough to become a single and be included in the tight 10 starters of the CD.

14/ TURN IT OFF 3:33 8/10
Turn it off is a strange funky pop/rock dance anthem that Siva and Jay co-wrote with Harry Sommerdahl and Britt burton. I've said it all, it mixes everything, funky elements, smooth sounds but with dance beats and rock chant, and despite all these opposite inspirations, it sounds brilliant and once more very joyful and uplifting !

15/ WHERE I BELONG 4:08 8,5/10
Siva's back on vocals and co-writing duties alone for the very last track of this Deluxe Edition CD, and the intro of Where I belong reminds me of Ryuchi Sakamoto's Forbidden colours. It doesn't last too long though, as it is only because of the echoed piano notes in the background while Siva's voice starts singing the first verse. Then more gentle and subtle electronic elements are added to build a beautiful melodic background for this Eliot Kennedy / Steelworks produced song that is not immediate in the sense that it doesn't sound like your usual pop song, but it is really a winning combinaison though ; I like it very much and it is a brilliant way to end the album because it makes The Wanted sound different. Or is it the additional mixing touch that Ash Howes added to it that made the difference ? Or maybe just that the song is not invaded with Max George's or other boys' backing vocals ? This one is different ; but still as good.

So in conclusion, this second album from The Wanted is good and great and it doesn't even have a single song I do not like, and after some listens, some non-single ones really stand as major parts (Invincible, Rocket and I'll be your strength) and future possible singles, but while the first CD sounded like a whole, this one is a little too diverse in sounds, with tracks all techno/dance (not that I complain about them!) and others more in the veins of last album, pop/rock with something more clubby in it, and with the boys only uniting on one bonus song to write together, I fear these seperate directions could get them splitting from one another... I hope not, or maybe it is just the way they have found to please each of them and make an album they can be proud of.

I have only one negative thing to say against Battleground in fact : I don't like its cover nor the photoshoots in the booklet (with all lyrics) at all !
What's this cover with red sky and purple mountains ? I wish the Deluxe Edition could have had a different cover with natural colours at least.
And Island Records (no more Geffen / Polydor, although still a Universal label...) make them look like a rock band. I don't think that will make them sell more... Or do they really fear the Boysband stamping ?!
On the contrary, the five postcards with the boys in front of a white brickwall look better, but the digipack has no place to insert them so they are just there, between the CD and the booklet's cardboard... I suppose I'll be the only one not to put them on my wall so I am the only one to notice this... LOL.
Now do yourself a big favour and just go buy this A.S.A.P. !
So they'll sell billions of CD/downloads, and they'll be able to record another one, and another one, and another one again... that will please me :)

1 commentaire:

  1. The weekend est pour moi le seul titre moyen de l'album. Je trouve qu'il sonne trop "boyband". Les 4 titres bonus de l'édition Deluxe me semblent être en dessous du reste de l'album, mais je ne les ai pas encore assez écouté pour porter un jugement définitif. Quant à la pochette, je l'adore! Comme quoi tous les goûts sont dans la nature ;-) En tous cas, excellente review!