CD: JLS - Evolution | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: JLS - Evolution
Boy band's progression puts the emphasis on sexy
From Elvis and Mick Jagger to the Spice Girls and, er, Chris Brown, pop music has often - whether covertly or overtly - been a fairly sexual medium. Listening to stuff you know your parents would hate is probably part of what fosters such tremendous loyalty between the listener and those first favourite groups and singers; the idea that you’re listening to something that’s truly yours, and your friends’. The good news is that the fourth album from JLS is a rich, urban pop record that is fresh, exciting and downright sleazy in places. The bad news is that I might just have become your mum.
An album title like Evolution is its own cross to bear, but the material makes it an obvious choice. The four-piece are clearly still aping their heroes, Boyz II Men, on some of the album’s smoother cuts (“Don’t Know That” in particular showcases their incredible harmonies, albeit over the sort of urban breakbeat that would make the Nineties soul balladeers faint). However, for the most part the boys have left pop territory behind in favour of a slicker, more R&B sound. Songs like “Give Me Life” and lead single “Hottest Girl in the World” are bona fide club stormers and “Troublemaker”, featuring US underground rapper Bebe O’Hare, is pop genius. With a roster of production talent on board that has worked with the likes of Rihanna, Frank Ocean and Kanye it’s probably unsurprising.
In a way, that’s the problem. There’s so much going on here that listening with untrained ears is exhausting, not least because (and here comes the “mum” bit) the album begins with the unrestrained filth-fest that is “Dessert”. Unless you’re Taylor Swift, a song with a title like that was only ever going to have one thrust, as it were. By the time the album’s first ballad, the lovely “Hold Me Down”, comes in you’ll either be ready for a cold bath or an all-night clubbing session.
Listen to "Hottest Girl in the World"
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
A drippy, if anthemic, second date with the latest teen dreams
Live-show charisma lifts anodyne material
A night of highs as the US rock band tackle 'Low'
Music that surfs the elation of post-colonial freedom
What are the elements that make up Einaudi's music?
Nostalgia and nonsense on Irish siblings' big return
Mammoth, warts-and-all compendium of what the Seventies superstar got up to behind closed doors
All-star trio delivers meticulously crafted performances of new material
Grand piano man in solo mode
The Sheffield soft rockers are back - just be careful which songs you download
London rockers deliver an object lesson in buzzy, contagious guitar pop
Multifaceted performer on the Mercury Prize and musical humanity