I've always adored the X Factor - it's the whole 'Simon Cowell Factor' - though with 2008's shows I never really took to any of the acts. And then when all the obsessive little girls started to commercialize JLS with their slogan jumpers and jewelery merchandise, I seemed to quickly lose any potential interest I had in JLS. Though when they released 'Everybody in Love', my opinion on the group changed quite dramatically. I went from loathing their existence to actually being quite fond of them just because of that single song. When asked to review 'JLS', their 2009 album, I simply thought, 'What they hey, it may just even change my opinion on them entirely!'. But was it going to succeed?
The artwork for this album is incredibly eye catching. Although it is very basic, it is also extremely powerful. You have a greyscale image of the four boys against a plain background, but above them you have the JLS logo in full colour. It does grab your attention - it's not as busy or as 'in your face' as some album covers we see nowadays, and is something to sell the album for sure.
Of course an attractive case is all well, but as the saying goes, 'it's what's on the inside that counts'. It is very important that the first track on an album grabs your attention to keep you listening throughout the rest, and it is safe to say that 'Beat Again' does just that. The song itself, with its glorious upbeat tempo and addictive lyrics, has been out a lot longer than the album itself and whilst I didn't really take to it straight away, I've found that the more I listen to it the more I enjoy it. It's quite a lovable song, and I have to hold my hand up and admit that it is one that I enjoy overly so.
Track two is a personal favourite of mine. 'Everybody in Love' is the very track that began to change my opinion on JLS. From the very first bar, I am hooked to this one and it has my full attention throughout its duration. It has an amazing rhythm that encourages you to move around as much as possible, and although it is quite quick paced it is very light hearted too. I've yet to find somebody who does not like this song, it's such an asset to the album.
Following two successes comes a third, in the form of 'Keep You'. Sometimes I find it hard to adapt myself to new music if I've not heard a song before (I'm probably one of the few who actually prefers covers!). Though I found myself taking to this song almost immediately. The great tempo is continued with this song, and the vocals are amazing too. It is definitely one that I would recommend you listen to.
The fourth track, 'Crazy For You', started off a little more slowly, with the strength within the song building up gradually. It never fully reached as much of a powerful tempo as the previous tracks, but it still held a steady rhythm to it. The vocals are much clearer though and this one is certainly easier to sing along to. Although it is not my favourite on the album, it is still an enjoyment.
'Heal this Heartbreak' is a track that confuses me slightly. Whilst I like it, it doesn't seem to stick in my mind. As soon as the song finishes, I have to listen again to be able to recall it's steady paced tempo and reasonably strong lyrics. It's one of those songs that are catchy whilst playing, but you wouldn't request it for radio play. It's definitely worth a listen but not one you should expect to fall in love with.
Our next track, 'Close to You', takes a new direction. It reminds me incredibly of bands such as Westlife or Boyzone with its gentle beat and soft vocals. I think some JLS fans may not like this one as it is quite a big step away from their usual hits, but it suits my tastes perfectly. It's so loving and caring, and I thank JLS for putting this one here to break the album up.
After a relaxing song, our spirits are raised again with track seven. 'Only Tonight' takes us back to the more traditional upbeat style. Okay so it's not much of a dance track, but it still provides you with a little bit more motivation with the previous. The lyrics stick with you more also - a thorough enjoyment!
Track eight is incredibly peculiar. 'One Shot' mixes a clubland-style tempo with gentle vocals before giving us something powerful all round. It's probably the most 'tencho' song on the album (but anything stronger than The Beatles is techno to me!). It is a catchy song and well sung, it's simply not my favourite.
'Private' was a song that I fell in love with almost instantly, the reason being I cannot place my finger upon exactly. Parts of it sound like 'Rock DJ', a song that I am shamefully fond of. The vocals are much stronger and attractive than the rhythm here, and I like that. It's very beautifully song, to say the least. Definitely one worth listening to.
With less than half the album to go, we head to 'Don't Go'. Although it does not have too powerful a rhythm compared to some, it is still quite a nice song and one I would happily listen to. Though again it is not one of those I'd go out of my way to listen to. But in all it is quite pleasant!
When a song begins with vocals, I find that I tend to dislike it more. I've never worked out why, but I prefer that tinkling of melody to introduce us. And 'Only Making Love' is no exception. Now I am not saying I dislike the track, I simply do not like it as much as others on the album. It's tempo is quite basic and the vocals are not overly impressive. I can listen to it, but would choose not to.
'Kickstart' is our second last track. It's certainly quite an exciting and upbeat song that is sure to make you move, if only slightly. Though I found it to be quite similar to other songs on the album, as if parts had been taken from various songs and merged together to create the one. I will admit though that it is quite catchy and one I enjoyed listening to the several times that I did.
The last track on the album is just as important as the first as far is impressions are concerned - this is generally the one that sees the album out and imprints the final impression. 'Tightrope' was definitely an option to go for here, but I was quite surprised at how gentle it was. Usually albums finish with an incredibly upbeat song with the exception of ballad albums, but JLS broke this rule. However I am not complaining at all. It is such a beautiful song, sung to perfection with an amazing rhythm. It is incredibly sweet and most certainly a joy to end the album on.
Right, that's it. I hold my hand up. I am a fan of JLS. I'll never be obsessed, but I think I'm going to be more likely to make the effort to listen to them now. This album has certainly won me over, and despite the few weaker tracks, it is build up of nothing but entertainment and quality. At no more than £10 from all major retailers, it is a bargain! Any fan of JLS simply has to buy this, and even if not you need to get your hands on a copy of this album - I promise you will not be disappointed. It will convert you too!