Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how well JLS have done for themselves since taking part in The X Factor back in 2008. They’ve sold over 6 million records, won two BRIT Awards, scored five No. 1 singles, are only one of 3 British bands to sell out more than 10 dates at the O2 Arena, and are now about to release their fourth studio album called ‘Evolution’.
Evolution sees JLS move in a more urban direction and sees the Brit boys working with a stellar list of American urban producers including hip hop producers The Runners [Rihanna, Chris Brown, Rick Ross] and Midi Mafia [Brandy, Frank Ocean] to legendary R&B hit-maker Rodney Jerkins [TLC, Kanye West, Beyonce]
But what can fans expect from the album? Is the title of the album a fitting description for the direction the boys are going in? I Am Music TV’s Ben Anderson had a listen to the album and let us know his thoughts on each of the tracks…
On this track JLS really demonstrate their tight harmonies. Short bursts of rap make up this pop-meets-hip hop album opener. The track sets the tone for a more mature sounding JLS both in style and lyrical content. If you listen closely enough to this track you’ll notice the inspiration from Keith Sweat’s ‘Freak Me’.
Lyrics: The opening chant “Shawty my dessert, lick her whole body up”
2. Hottest Girl In The World
The lead single from the album that most people have now heard since it’s first radio play on 6th September. This is a very different JLS. It feels as though this was meant for a mature audience and possibly even a track that will get them lots of attention over in the USA. The track definitely has a Justin Timberlake-esque sound to it. Slick vocals and a great slowdown section mid-song. A sure fire hit for the guys. HGITW is available on iTunes with a release date of this Sunday (21st October).
Lyrics: “I can be your toyfriend, I can be your lover”
3. Have Your Way
Motown / soulful meets Justin Timberlake is the overriding sound with this track that’s all about going out and partying with a lady. Really well produced track. It has a lot going on but doesn’t feel too over the top. Each of the boys get to show off a bit of their vocals. This is classic JLS. A solid album track.
Lyrics: “That girl look cute but she really don’t plaaaaaaay. Bad girl at night, good girl in the daaaaay”
4. Hold Me Down
The opening notes are like Emeli Sande’s Next To Me. Simple piano style chords with a simple beat. No over the top production. This one’s just about the boys and their vocals. The message? Overcoming anything that might be getting in their way. A very solid track here. Expect this one to do well in the charts if released.
Lyrics: “They said a man ain’t meant to fly but I’m reaching up for the sky”
5. I Like It
JLS do what they do best here. Singing a girls praises and declaring their love for her and telling her that she doesn’t need to put in as much effort as she does because she’s so amazing. The fresh beat makes this go from being a soppy ballad to a real upbeat track. It’s an addictive track that you will want to play over and over again. Fan’s won’t just like this track, they’ll LOVE IT!
Lyrics: “I like the way you turn me on, I think about you when you’re gone. I’m liking everything I see. I like it. I like it”
6. All The Way
Every album these days seems to have at least one trance / electronic dance music track. This is the one for this album. It’s not quite up there with some of the Calvin Harris / David Guetta collaborations that we’ve been treated to recently but the chorus is catchy and you can see this being played in clubs up and down the country.
Lyrics: “Give into this energy, and give me your everything”
7. Give Me Life
Another electro-meets-pop track. Great vocals. This track is easier to remember / sing along to than ‘All The Way’ and once again could do well in clubs.
Lyrics: “I need a supply of your mouth-to-mouth, don’t speak, no need, don’t speeeeaaaak”
8. Don’t Know That
Imagine JLS telling a lucky lady how they feel about her? Yep, that’s what they do here again on this track. The lyrics are great and the simplicity of the track is what makes it work. This is very much the JLS that we are used to hearing.
Lyrics: “No matter what it is we’re going through, I’m always gonna feel what I feel for you.”
9. Troublemaker ft. Bebe O’Hare
In this track JLS describe their planned antics for a night out. It’s falsetto central in the bridge. A repetitive chanting chorus of “You’re a real troublemaker” will stick in your head for sometime after the track finishes. All rounded off with a guest feature from Chicago rapper Bebe O’Hare. An interesting choice but a solid verse.
Lyrics: “Who’s that in the hot red dress, you’re looking so sexy and oh so fresh”
10. Gotta Try It
Take a pinch of high-pitched falsettos, add a sprinkling of old school R&B flavour and then top it off with a nice acapella opening this is a great track and definitely something new for JLS. This might sound like a weird combination but it has elements of old school Usher mixed in with a bit of Jeremih. Taking all of this into consideration the track works really well.
Lyrics: “If I could see what life was like without you here by my side, I know that sh*t would hurt”
Overall, Evolution is a very solid album. It has a bit of everything from ballads to 90′s sounding R&B tracks and of course the obligatory club infused dance tracks. The vocals are tight. The harmonies are on point. The guys sound great on it. Evolution is definitely an evolution in sound and direction for JLS. It reflects the fact that their core fan base has grown up and caters to them without alienating any newer and younger fans. The album will also prove to any doubters just how good JLS actually are and that their success isn’t just by chance. With a more mature sound, it’s to be expected that with the release of this album JLS will appeal to a much wider audience both here in the UK and overseas.
Evolution is due for release on 5th November via iTunes
Check out JLS performing an Acoustic version of ‘Hottest Girl In The World’