At the minute, you only have to leave a major radio station on for half an hour before you’ve heard about Union J; their most recent two singles, Tonight (We Live Forever) and title track, You Got It All, have been raging through the charts with unbelievable power. At fifteen tracks (including a Christmas cover) the album’s lengthy for what one might expect from a boyband? pop group? Whichever describes a four-piece with as much energy, charisma and chart success as these boys have had.
What’s continuously refreshing in the record is that – unlike so many artists that make any top 40 – there’s a real sense of originality in the lyrics, with only the odd cliche or forced rhyme filtering through (but we’ll get to that later). Having worked with the likes of Jamie Scott (One Direction, The Vamps and 5SOS, Jessie), Red Triangle (Little Mix, One Direction), Eric Frederic (Jason Derulo, Cee Lo Green) and legendary songstress Diane Warren (Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Aerosmith), the organic sound is unsurprising. Reflecting on the album, Union J said, “We have collaborated with some of the biggest names in music and in doing so have made an album that we are incredibly proud of. We hope that everyone loves it as much as we do”.
Something a little less surprising about this album is that every song could very easily be a single, and after the two individual releases that open the album, All About A Girl continues things in a big way. An opening that features its fair share of “na na”s and “oooh”s leads up a dance-worthy crescendo of a chorus that will totally kick off a live show. One More Time and Together continue the feel-good slash emancipation vibe that drives pop music, before token piano ballad I Can’t Make You Love Me enters in a manner akin to Tom Odell as a boyband.
She’s In My Head lifts spirits and a Christmassy intro to Midnight Train adds a touch of festive cheer to the album. Slightly creepily titled I Love To Watch You Sleep turns out to be another slow love ballad, the sort perfectly suited for waving lighters (or iPhone flashlights) and swaying to at a live show. Driven by an acoustic guitar, Central Park makes it as my personal favourite off the record remaining both powered and down to earth, before Girl Like You latches once again onto the singles vibe, lines like, “a single shot of you makes a guy want a double”, sticking in your head long after the track’s close.
As a term, I thought YOLO was dead and gone, but the song proves otherwise – though the backing remains a touch too samey throughout, making the track somewhat withheld. Penultimate Get It Right makes another favourite for its tight rhymes and undeniably infectious sound, before upbeat and contagious Song For You and I closes the record. Extra cover of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas inspires undeniable festive cheer and would easily be in place on a movie soundtrack.
With fifteen tracks, it’s hard to keep originality going, but they’ve done just that, with catchy lyrics and radio-friendly tracks bound to set them on track for the top.