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McFly - Radio:ACTIVE

McFly, Radioactive

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

DARE I say it, but McFly shows signs of growing up on their latest album, Radio:ACTIVE. There are a handful of decent songs when it sounds like the boys aren’t simply content to stroll through the easy pop-rock numbers. But let’s not get carried away just yet!

The fourth album from the boys is released on newly-founded indie label Super Records and proudly proclaims to be a more fuller realisation of their lofty ambitions than previous offerings. Hence, the easy pop sound that has attracted millions is augmented – but not replaced – by darker, more grown-up punk rock efforts, as well as a wider scope of material.

It’s in the departures that the album does come alive and is worth more than just a cursory view, even though it also finds them at their most hit-and-miss. Album opener and former single Lies is described as a dark slice of punk-pop that clearly takes its cues from Less Than Jake instrumentally. But the vocals give away the band’s still tender years and it’s not really that successful.

One For The Radio is loud, brash pop-rock that’s McFly on autopilot and least interesting, while Everybody Knows at least beefs up the guitar sound and opts for a more gritty Bryan Adams style of approach.

Do Ya is fun in a distinctly retro pop kind of way, combining Beach Boys style harmonising with a vibe that wouldn’t sound out of place on the set of Happy Days or Grease, while Falling In Love is a halfway decent ballad that offers real pointers for the future as they continue to refine their sound.

POV attempts to balance synths and guitars with a vocal style that’s vaguely reminiscent of more radio-friendly Linkin Park (only less successfully), but Smile retreads retro territory for a finger-clickingly fun ode to being yourself and stay happy – even though there’s a certain mixed message to lyrics such as “come on and show us your teeth and what’s underneath”.

Tracks like The End and the appropriately named Going Through The Motions set their progress back, but Down Goes Another One and The Last Song once again display the growing sense of maturity that surrounds their material – even though the latter can’t quite resist the temptation to give in to the obvious pop-rock euphoria that ruins so much of their material.

It’s no masterpiece, and still hopelessly devoted to their main tweenie audience, but four albums on and McFly are beginning to suggest they could be with us for some time yet, whilst improving and broadening their appeal along the way.

Download picks: Do Ya, Everybody Knows, Falling In Love, Down Goes Another One

Track listing:

  1. Lies
  2. One For The Radio
  3. Everybody Knows
  4. Do Ya
  5. Falling In Love
  6. POV
  7. Corrupted
  8. Smile
  9. The End
  10. Going Through The Motions
  11. Down Goes Another One
  12. Only The Strong Survive
  13. The Last Song

  1. I have to say, I respect that you actually had an open mind while listening to the album and aren’t nearly as ignorant as the authors of some other reviews I’ve read. Although I disagree with you on some points (Like ‘The End’… it’s, in my opinion, one of the best songs on there. My favorite.) I appreciate that you’re recognizing McFly as a serious band, not a “boyband” and that they have talent. I do not think McFly have to develope their sound more or anything. I really think that they are one of the best out there and they have true talent and love for their music.
    I’m hoping for a McFly tour in the US in 2009 :)

    Shannon    Oct 18    #