Ever the reality skeptic, it was with a sense of trepidation that I waited for the opening offering from Olly Murs to start. It took surprisingly little time for any ill feeling to evaporate.
Refreshingly light on its feet, this album represents a welcome departure from the incessant balladry you normally associate with the X Factor. An extension of the cheeky image Murs crafted for himself on the show, his self-titled debut is light-hearted and fun, and will surely be a summer soundtrack.
Still very much a pop album, the great strength on show is Murs’ ability to dip into a variety of genres, notably the beach-tinged sounds of the 1960s, synonymous with The Beach Boys, and alike.
“Love Shine Down” makes great use of an upstroke guitar melody, the subtle reggae backing creating a mellow canvas on which Murs can place his vocals. It is the fusion of this with the drum-heavy pop chorus that makes the song a winner.
Lyrically speaking, the album remains a little superficial. Choosing to ignore metaphor and double-entendre, the stories of love, life, and girls threaten in places to venture too far into the realms of the cliché.
Of course, this is nothing less than you’d expect from a pop album. Constructed for mass appeal and enjoyment, the sweet and cheery nature of both the music and the lyrics will no doubt tick all the right boxes in a great many minds.
The successes of singles “Please Don’t Let Me Go” and “Thinking Of Me” speak for themselves. Lip-smackingly poptastic, and about as English as strawberries and cream, both are charming and enticing songs, epitomized by their chart peaks.
Postmodern to the extreme, Murs bombards us with his re-inventions of past sounds, from the previously mentioned reggae and ‘60s pop, to the wonderful “Busy” which drums up a sense of nostalgia for songs like “Over The Rainbow”.
Granted, a new sound hasn’t been brought to the table here. We probably aren’t looking at the future of music. But for Olly Murs, there must be a great sense of pride. Not only has he brought some long overdue cheer to an X Factor CD, but he’s made some brave, and largely successful choices about the music he wants to release.
So, if you’re sick of 2011 and the tax rise already, then this is the album for you. Indulge in Murs’s sweet summery sounds, and feel your bad thoughts slip effortlessly away.