Saturday, 29 November 2014

Olly Murs - Never Been Better

Olly Murs Never Been Better

"Did you miss me?" Murs asks on the opening track of the same name.  Well, not particularly Olly.  He's undoubtedly one of the most successful X Factor contestants with a string of hits, but his music has mostly been forgettable despite his cheeky persona.

The title of this fourth album doesn't lie though.  This is his strongest and most consistent album to date, taking us on a tour of current trends.  Funky opener Did You Miss Me? sets the tone with its bubbling bass and horn fanfares; it's followed by current single Wrapped Up that cements Murs as the British answer to Bruno Mars.  It's on these feelgood, upbeat numbers that he's most comfortable, horns and piano covering up his limited vocal range - the title track and the sexually-charged Can't Say No in particular.  He also explores dance music: Why Do I Love You and We Still Love both feature catchy trip-hop beats, whilst Stick With Me is Avicii meets Clean Bandit, all country guitars, strings and heavy beats.

That's not the only country-inspired track; Up, the love duet with Demi Lovato, is clearly aimed towards a US market, lacking the sense of British cool that's stamped across the rest of the album.  Yet after the success of the last album's Dear Darlin', Murs has learnt to deliver a ballad with sincerity.  Nothing Without You and Hope You Got What You Came For both start simply enough, but soon develop into soaring ballads that reveal a truth and honesty beneath that cheeky chappy exterior.

Then there's the 1975-esque soft rock of Beautiful To Me on which Murs stretches his vocal range on anthemic melodies, whilst Seasons blends funk guitars and beats with sparse, edgy production.  Murs may have recently admitted in a BBC interview that he doesn't wish to innovate in his music, but 'Never Been Better' proves that when he pushes the boundaries beyond his usual Bruno Mars/Robbie Williams soul-inflected pop sound, the results can be successful.

Some may be surprised that Murs has made it this far to a fourth album, least of all himself.  Musically, this isn't the most original album around and it lacks a real standout single to mark Murs as a superstar, but with fun and enjoyable songs to match his personality, he's certainly heading in the right direction.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Did You Miss Me?
* Stick With Me
* Can't Say No

Listen: 'Never Been Better' is available now.