en: Make It Good (album) [info]
You cant blame a band for being ambitious, but Mark A1's claim that this is going to be "the best pop album since Thriller" is a laughably ambitious to say the least. A1 have reached the make or break territory of that difficult third album, and in boy band terms that calls for a rapid change in direction. It's like hitting puberty and suddenly wanting to be seen as grown up to all around and at the same time making a desperate attempt to keep in step with their ever-maturing fan base.
Ben and the boys have gone back to basics, picking up instruments and muscling in on the writing for this, their follow up to 2000s The A List album. They've left the dance routines behind and are trying to wipe the memories of their critics by saying that they've been proper musicians all along. They have even gone so far as to bring in the talents of U2, Travis and The Manics' producer Mike Hedges to give them an edge to their sound but despite all this Make It Good fails to live up to its own expectations.
"Caught In the Middle" (the album's opener) and title track "Make It Good" are catchy, easy going pop tunes worthy of their recent success but its downhill from there on in. Track after track of predictable Ronan Keating/Savage Garden, weedy-sentimental ballads and cardigan and slippers sanitised pop-rock follows, peaking in cringe-worthiness with "Do You Remember" (which features a strong contender for the most skin crawling falsetto vocal ever). "One Last Song" raises the interest levels briefly, if only out of hope that it really is getting near the end...
Die-hard fans will love it and fair play to the boys for trying, but A1 are never going to be a credible rock band. Make It Good? More like Make It Stop...