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Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

JLS WILL be huge, no matter what’s written about them. With this in mind, this review is almost redundant in terms of effectiveness. People who read it will probably bemoan the fact that “an indie site” [word to the wise, indie is for independent thinking!] is even reviewing it in the first place.

Sadly, the reason why I and so many other journalists have chosen to criticise this debut offering is that it’s just so generic as to be rendered soulless.

The boys have decent voices, as well as an admirably clean-cut image that’s worth protecting. But their music is pure X-Factor product. It’s risk-free, conformist and pretty damn bland.

Take current single, Everybody in Love, an arms-in-the-air anthem that’s designed to get loads of drippy fans singing and chanting along in tandem with its saccharine sentiment. It’s a product ripped right out of the Simon Cowell template for success… and worse, the type of power ballad that’s been delivered countless times already by other boy bands from Westlife to Blue, or even early Take That.

You can see why JLS would want to follow the template for success because, by definition, it guarantees success. But with the vocals at their disposal, they really ought to have stretched themselves, confident in the knowledge they have already adhered themselves to the hearts of an X-Factor nation.

Sadly, the eponymous album that has resulted is like painting by numbers. It’s predictable, soulless and really nothing special. Being ultra-critical, it’s actually quite lamentable.

Final track Tightrop is another classic example. A tepid ballad that’s sung in harmony, it boasts repeat lyrics about “falling at your feet” and “walking tightropes” that are all about yearning and devotion. But it lacks any real emotion and is delivered as if going through the motions, complete with bog-standard finger click back beats and lame synths.

The album as a whole offers the usual pop mix of R’n‘B inflicted synths and/or ballads. Another former single Beat Again has a snappy sensibility, but feels formulaic and too familiar, while Keep You furthers the notion that JLS are boys still waiting to graduate to men… with lines like “And I promise I’ll be there, you know I will” furthering the suspicion that they could benefit from delivering some back-bone into their delivery.

Right now, they’re the kind of singers that your mother wouldn’t mind you listening to… clean-cut, polite, nice boys next door who sing all the right lines and go through all the right motions.

Tracks like Crazy For You, Only Making Love and Close To You merely prolong the agony, while piling on the cheesy sentiment.

This review won’t put you off, of course, but here’s a comparison. Listen to JLS and then compare it to other mainstream favourites from the likes of Coldplay, Keane and more recent Take That. You may be surprised at the diversity, maturity and breadth of scope offered by those other, better bands that JLS should really set their sights on emulating.

Download picks: Beat Again

Track listing:

  1. Beat Again
  2. Everybody In Love
  3. Keep You
  4. Crazy For You
  5. Heal This Heartbreak
  6. Close To You
  7. Only Tonight
  8. One Shot
  9. Private
  10. Don’t Go
  11. Only Making Love
  12. Kickstart
  13. Tightrope