JLS came into the public eye when they finished second in 2008s X Factor, since then they’ve released 3 albums and had 5 number one hits. Their albums all seem to sell well; but dare I say it, after 4 years their music has become boring! Each album seems to follow a pattern, with formulaic songs and predictable single choices, it’s all a bit safe. That’s why I was so excited when single ‘Hottest Girl in the World’ was released. It was a new sound for the band. Though it has the classic JLS harmonies that their fans have come to love, it also contains elements of R&B. The track sounds like something that could’ve been released by Justin Timberlake; but instead of sounding dated, they make it sound fresh. I was surprised the single didn’t chart within the top 5 and that it received mixed reviews.
Since the release of that track, I’ve been excited to see what Evolution would sound like, and JLS didn’t dissapoint. The whole album contains these R&B elements. They’ve sensibly opted to go in this kind of direction, as opposed to the pretty boy pop of One Direction and The Wanted. It allows them to tackle a different market, and conquer the popular music industry from another angle.
The album opens with ‘Dessert’, an edgy track which immediately shows R&B elements. Tracks like ‘Hold You Down’ will undoubtedly do well; effortlessly catchy, with classy chord progressions and great use of strings, it’s incredibly sleek and shows a real musical maturity on the bands part. ‘Give Me Life’ has a great beat and will be a favorite in the bands live show. ‘Troublemaker’ is a real high point in the album, and would do incredibly well if released as a single. It features up-and-comer Bebe O’Hare rapping, which shows JLS really trying to go in a more edgy and ‘new music’ direction. The album finished with ‘Gotta Try It’ which although it does make far to much use of falsetto, is a great ballad.
There are some lower points in the album. ‘I Like It’ is musically static, with no real direction. ‘All The Way’ is the same, and both tracks feel like they’ve just been put in to fill up space on the album. It’s a shame as there are some really strong tracks on the album.
However, the good points outweigh the bad. The album stands up, and shows a new direction for the band. In a sea of bubblegum and club pop, JLS are doing something different. And it’s working.