Teenage girls (and a relative amount of teenage boys) have had a love affair with the notion of the “boy band” for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s from the Osmonds or Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, to more recent, harmonized monsters like Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, and the Jonas Brothers -these acts have been sure to establish those warm, butterflies-in-the-stomach feelings across the world. So, it’s only natural that the latest UK import burning up the US charts is also making teenage hearts race like they hadn’t in a long time. The Wanted is composed of wannabe footballers (soccer here in the States) and all-around good-looking gents who can carry a tune. But with success in cracking America held up so high, The Wanted fall short.
Technically, this EP entitled The Wanted is the group’s third release. Their two previous albums, The Wanted and Battleground were received well across Europe, but failed to get the boys noticed in America. Now, all that has changed with the release of mega-singles like “Glad You Came” and “Chasing The Sun.”
The Wanted EP open with the promise of dance floor-ready anthems with much more sex appeal than boy bands’ past. But after the initial rush of “Glad You Came” and “Chasing The Sun” (which actually sound much less appealing on record than when performed live), the production and lyrical content starts to try too hard. “Heart Vacancy” can be compared to the sappy, almost love songs like Backstreet Boys’ “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” but, that would be unfair…to the Backstreet Boys. With The Wanted’s decided sexuality and self-proclaimed “man band” status, their “love songs” seem unbelievable.
“All Time Low,” the track that cemented the band’s status in the UK, attempts to establish a looking-for-true-love persona, but again falls flat. The same can be said for the dramatic, semi-ballad “Warzone.” Maybe the lyrics themselves are overshadowed by lack of interest sonically, but the two don’t mesh well. “Gold Forever” includes the laughable line, “butterflies, butterflies, we were meant to fly” and lends itself to yet another celebration of youth. “Lightning” is redeemable, but it follows the same recipe as The Wanted’s previous singles: slow beginning, simple hook in a catchy chorus, accompanied by an overdone, but always danceable beat.
Maybe this album is helping me realize that this is where popular music is staying right now. That maybe that awfully annoying Gotye song is the most sonically interesting track that will make it on the radio. To The Wanted’s credit, these guys can actually sing. It’s not their voices that sound bad, it’s the lack of diversity in each track, both lyrically and structurally. Will the album perform well on the charts? Most definitely. But, eventually they’re going to want to change. Hopefully, there will be enough fans and skeptics interested in what that change brings.
*Find Jessi Roti directly on Twitter @thejessilala and be sure to follow @ScreenInvasion!