The Wanted might just be my favourite current boyband. I mean, let’s look at the competition. We have One Direction, the lads who are so young and smug they could be starring in a Clearasil advert. Then there’s JLS, the band willing to put their face on anything be it a hoody, a condom or a ‘Happy Birthday Cousin’ greetings card (kid you not, they do exist). And, at the risk of sounding heretical, I’ve always found our Gods of the British boy band Take That just a little dull. The Wanted came onto the scene a couple of years ago and with their memorable riffs and rocky tendencies made their name as the boy band it was sort of okay to like.
The band’s new album Battleground is released on the 7th of November and it’s a record that showcases The Wanted’s ability to produce energetic pop songs. The album opens with the summer anthem Glad You Came. The song displays the same sort of carnival feel which has featured in lots of club tracks lately, and has probably provided the soundtrack to many summer misadventures.
The second track, Lightning, is another upbeat and likeable tune but the lyrics let it down slightly. Catchy though it is, the line “It’s a little bit frightening, might as well be playing with lightning” can hardly be described as original. This slightly shoddy writing also features in other potential club favourite Weekend; “We’ll make you sweat like you’ve worked out.” Oh dear.
The upcoming single Warzone is a brooding lament to an adulterous girlfriend. The track demonstrates that The Wanted aren’t just about the big club hitters, but fails to bring any depth to the album. The use of auto-tuning is incredibly obvious and on the whole the song is highly forgettable. Invincible sees a return to the band’s area of expertise, and provides another song which I’m sure we’ll be hearing in Sugarhouse sometime soon.
As is obligatory with any boyband, The Wanted feature several lingering ballads on the album. Some of these are worth a listen (Last to Know), but most are quite frankly just a bit wet (I’ll Be Your Strength). It’s a shame that the band is unable to bring its ability to produce original sounding pop music to anything which doesn’t contain a thumping beat, suggesting that they won’t be filling the gaping hole which Westlife are leaving in school disco slow-dances across the country.
Gold Forever, the band’s Number three Comic Relief song, ends the album on a high. It’s a song with not only an accessible and catchy tune, but a level of depth which reminds us that pop songs don’t have to be auto-tuned and bland to make it into the charts.
On the whole, The Wanted’s second offering is only slightly disappointing. The boring ballads and overly auto-tuned style let the band down, but there are enough tracks on the album to remind us of The Wanted’s flair for producing distinctive and catchy songs. One Direction need to stop looking so smug, they still have plenty of competition here.