by Marc Ridley
New Will Young albums don't appear very often, but when they do, his steady onslaught of promising pop has ensured his reputation as a reliable entertainment mainstay which keeps the pop world steadily turning.
Young's new album, "Echoes" is out on Monday and is his latest since 2008's "Let It Go", which spawned the well received yet not exactly well sold singles "Changes", and that one of the Natwest ads.
EQ has been given an advanced preview of the album, featuring six tracks and the lead single "Jealousy" (video below), which you may have already heard. As a whole, "Echoes" has a definite tone of its own, and leaves behind the more mainstream, soul feel of its predecessor. Its brilliance is unusual and understated, yet the subtle electronic and pop threads running throughout the thirteen tracks ensure ear deserves a place in the nation's ears.
If you haven't heard it yet, "Jealousy" is the first track on the album and is soft and minimal, with Young sporting a quietly vulnerable voice. Bursting into a more expansive sound, the toned-down style of the track is joined by a reliable and familiar electro beat. The chorus is uplifting but somewhat subtle and mature; there's no over-the-top pop here.
"Lie Next to Me" is slower and softer, with Young's whispered vocals only audible due to their layered arrangement. "Come On" is a first-listen highlight, and offers a more up-tempo beat which still restrains itself to within the same tone as preceding tracks: 'Walk away, that's what you do / and it looks like I'm somebody you once knew … Like a dream the sky is falling / Is it you who's talking to me?'
The album's closest track to a ballad comes with "Silent Valentine", a piano-led track which falls short of anthem status but is nevertheless a pretty satisfying, if unconventional, pop ballad.
Conversely, "Losing Myself" is heavier and struts along with a strong bass line, paired-up with an impressive melody. It loses its way towards the end, but managed to take the album in a stronger direction, which is welcome after the vulnerability of preceding tracks.
"Personal Thunder", meanwhile, sounds cautious and unsettling, with lonely vocals and a relentlessly disjointed melody. But the brilliant chorus, when it eventually arrives, has a clear, confident melody and lyrics to match: 'I'm finding these days my personal under / it's tripping me down / locked in a cage but I won't surrender'.
Whilst releases by Will Young aren't as big events on the pop calendar as those by other, similarly long-lasting artists, there is certainly a level of quality here which ensures our continued interest. Even from the few tracks we've heard, which only make up about half of the album, there's a lot to like and a lot worth listening to. In short, we're happy with Young's fifth effort. And we'll eagerly await his sixth.