Monday, December 06, 2010

Album Review: Olly Murs - Olly Murs (3.5/5)

X Factor runner up Olly Murs has nabbed himself a pretty formidable start to his career. He lost to winner Joe McElderry in 2009’s series of the British talent competition The X Factor, however 2010 has seen Murs emerge as one of the year’s biggest British acts, scoring his first chart topper back in August with his debut single “Please Don’t Let Me Go,” following it up with a second top 5 hit “Thinking of Me,” and now his self-titled debut album (which debuts at #2 this week, with a quite a hefty 108k sold).

Murs’ sound sort of re-calls the British pop grandeur of Robbie Williams or Take That, while the tone to his voice reminds me a little bit of former Pop Idol winner Will Young—both influences this albums attempts to illustrate, nothing on here is as good as either of the aforementioned have produced—It’s a pretty standard bag of feel-good pop, balladry and light jaunty reggae influences (mostly on the two singles), but nothing really sticks however there are a few good moments.

The blusterous Robbie influenced rock of “Change is Gonna Come,” kicks things off. A bracing production; jaunty piano keys beneath the horns, drums and percussion—even some quirk from Murs on the “ch-ch-change is gonna come.” It sounds fantastic, but also sounds like something Robbie William’s has pursued before—I can’t quite put my finger on it but the influences are more than apparent.

Along with “Change” there are a handful of highlights on here. Whilst Murs seems to have mastered his sound on “Please Don’t Let Me Go” and “Thinking of Me,” he surprisingly shines quite brightly on the ballads. My favourite is “A Million More Years,” a soaring heart-felt ballad—clocking in wonderfully on that Take That inspired climatic energy—soaring strings, electronic guitars, big choir for that captivating climax.

More highlights include “Ask Me to Stay” which takes on a more restraint approach to the ballad—a simple matching of strings, guitar, piano and drums and “Heart On My Sleeve,” which also trails some Take That influenced balladry. “Don’t Say Goodbye” and “I Blame Hollywood” aren’t bad slices of melodic pop either.

The album has its fair share of bland moments too—the bland “Busy” which doesn’t amount to much; pacing drums, percussion, remaining flat throughout. The same goes for “Accidental,” “Love Shine Down,” and “Hold On” all fillers.

I'm actually pretty surprised at how much I enjoyed this but at the same time I wish I could have liked this album more as I do really like Olly Murs (in fact, I did want him to win last year) but in all it’s a decent debut—a bit light on the craftsmanship, a couple highlights here, a couple duds there but nothing terrible. If anything, I would strongly recommend checking out “A Million More Years.” It’s just wonderful.

Best: A Million More Years, Please Don’t Let Me Go, Change is Gonna Come, Ask Me to Stay, Heart On My Sleeve, Thinking of Me

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