wed 08/02/2023

CD: John Newman – Revolve | reviews, news & interviews

CD: John Newman – Revolve

CD: John Newman – Revolve

The singer goes fishing for hits armed with pop hooks and little else

"Well whatever. Because that is me. I ‘evolve’, but I don’t… ‘revolve!’"

Coming to this, the second album from big-voiced, baby-faced David Gahan lookalike John Newman, I was keen to see how he’d progressed. After the occasionally satisfying blend of old soul and new production on Tribute, would Revolve allow him to evolve and perhaps hone his sound further?

Not really, is the answer. His voice is great – let’s get that out of the way from the off. No complaints there, the voice can stay. However, having pulled in Greg Kurstin to work on his follow-up, the result is an album that has more to do with the incessant, pummeling and exhausting day-glo colours of Katy Perry than it does with soul, northern or otherwise.

There are hints of promise buried deep in “Come and Get It”, “Give You My Love” and “I’m Not Your Man”. Much here however, “Tiring Game” being the most extreme example, is just synthesized sherbert and wipe-clean, laminated pop. Still, it’s hooks he wanted, it’s hooks he got. The strongest of these, probably “Lights Down” and “All My Heart”, will become stratospheric smashes, X-Factor staples and soundtrack countless goals being smashed past hapless keepers of a Saturday night.

In fact there is something very utilitarian about this collection, workmanlike, perhaps. The peak-and-trough energy levels of “Something Special” could happily lead a spin class. “Never Give it Up” with its upbeat, positive message of endurance would be perfect as hold music for one of the major banks. At points, “Killing Me” sounds like it got lost after having fallen off the soundtrack to Footloose – not a job as such, but hard work, certainly.

A colleague recently said to me that they wished the latest Bond theme had been gifted to John Newman rather than Sam Smith. While that may seem like damning with faint praise, it really isn’t. John Newman has the potential to produce work of real quality. What he’s given us with Revolve is a fairly standard pop album. That’s fine, as far as it goes, but we should be expecting much, much more. 

Never Give it Up with its upbeat, positive message of endurance would be perfect as hold music for one of the major banks


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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