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Marcus Collins – Marcus Collins (Review)

Marcus Collins, Marcus Collins

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

MARCUS Collins is the latest X-Factor runner-up to have flourished from missing out. But while his eponymous debut album is an easy listen that showcases a promising young soul vocalist confidently strutting his stuff, it’s also tailor-made for easy chart success.

That is to say, it’s comprised of a smattering of cover version here, a dose of Gary Barlow influence there and a retro-pop sound that seems to be the fastest route to success for anyone plying their trade in a post-Amy Winehouse world.

Creatively, it falls pretty short even though Collins has written a lot of the tracks himself (for which he deserves credit) because under-pinning most tracks are the easiest of borrowed sentiments.

Collins, meanwhile, would be wise to stretch himself for many of the tracks on this long-player have an overly familiar quality, whether it’s taking their cues from each other in style or the artists they’ve clearly taken inspiration from (whether it’s classic crooners or contemporary artists such as Cee-Lo Green).

That said, the album does open with Collins’ cover version of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army, which has been completely re-interpreted and which could be seen as a brave opener. Alas, the quality isn’t there to back it up… Collins’ smooth makeover coming complete with slick beats and cheesy horns and organs that detract from the raw sound of the original that made it so striking.

Thereafter, it’s that Mark Ronson meets Amy Winehouse meets Cee-Lo meets Daniel Merriweather kind of template, which is easy enough on the ears but lacking in something to truly make Collins stand out in his own right as a performer.

The sentiments underpinning them are pretty lightweight too, whether it’s the black and white of Love & Hate, the melancholy reflection on youth and growing up that is Innocence or the lovelorn plea that is Don’t Surrender.

Quite often, Collins like to use gospel backing to embellish his sound, as well as retro guitar riffs and a classic style that recalls the likes of Jackie Wilson and company. To be fair, he pulls this off well vocally but, again, there’s simply not enough diversity to make him stand out.

His cover version of Your Love Is Lifting Me Higher, meanwhile, panders to the sort of crowd-pleasing tendencies he needed to survive to the latter stages of X-Factor and is merely average.

But his aggressive take on Janelle Monae’s Tightrope is a bit of a belter and gives the album a welcome kick up the backside that hints at a brighter direction to take in future.

Overall, we’ve got nothing too much against Collins’ debut album… it passes the time and doesn’t do too much wrong. But that in itself becomes a problem as there’s also the nagging sense that this has been so well polished by the powers-that-be to guarantee success that it has probably prevented too much of Collins’ true personality to shine.

It’s a useful starting point for him but with a voice like his, you sense the best is yet to come once he’s been given the real freedom to express himself. This is a very play-it-safe approach.

Download picks: Tightrope, Don’t Surrender, Mercy

Track listing:

  1. Seven Nation Army
  2. Love & Hate
  3. Innocence
  4. Don’t Surrender
  5. Mercy
  6. Higher & Higher
  7. That’s Just Life
  8. Tightrope
  9. It’s Time
  10. Feel Like I Feel
  11. Break These Chains