It’s been almost a year since Matt Terry won The X Factor and since then, he’s performed to thousands of fans and spent months honing his song-writing and artistic craft, the results of which he has now shared on his debut album Trouble.
Opening with new single “Sucker For You”, which lyrically showcases the ‘darker’ side of love and relationships, the collection kicks off by giving listeners an emotively powerful number to lose themselves in – allowing them the opportunity to connect with the lyrics and be physically moved by the track’s great musicianship and rhythm which could – and probably does – quite easily fill dance-floors everywhere.
Title track “Trouble” has a rather exotic, ‘party on a tropical sandy beach’ vibe to it but “The Thing About Love” is undoubtedly THE stand out piece on the album. With its poignant and powerful lyrics, combined with Terry showcasing the very best of his vocal ability, it serves as a reminder of just how and why he won over the judges, and more importantly, the public to claim The X Factor crown.
The album plays very much like a diary, charting the highs and lows Matt has gone through in the past couple of years, and the track-listing of the collection reflects this extremely well, alternating between upbeat and more subdued songs, which can easily be taken as musical metaphors for how love, and life, work for each and every one of us.
While there are several tracks which focus on the more negative sides of heartbreak and lost love, “Don’t Ask”, with its upbeat underside will help even the most broken hearted feel more positive and uplifted. It’s rare for a UK artist to even attempt singing in a foreign language, so, despite closing the album on an unusual note with it, Terry should be commended for his commitment to doing so on “SUBEME LA RADIO”, the collaboration with Enrique Iglesias and Sean Paul.
As a whole, Trouble is a solid first album for an artist who since claiming The X Factor crown in 2016 has worked tirelessly to make a name for himself in the ever-competitive music world. Whether or not this album will solidify his place a little more within it however remains to be seen but it’s sure to delight his growing fan-base.
As one of the few (at least few I can name) bands of the modern age to have a career lasting more than a decade, Maroon 5 were once the dominant force in pop-rock charts around the world and now, they’re back to try and reassert said dominance with their sixth album Red Pill Blues.
There’s a glint of humour to Levine’s voice on opening number “Best 4 U” which makes the vocal seemingly shimmer on a track that’s as catchy as it is lyrically simplistic – (very). Follow up “What Lovers Do” featuring SZA, fares batter, upping the tempo somewhat and bringing back that almost infamous Levine falsetto that made the band so noteworthy back in their heyday.
“Wait” adds an R’n’B vibe to proceedings, something which doesn’t quite fit with the bands’ usual sound, but they should be commended for experimenting at a time when many of their artistic counterparts refuse to do so. “Lips On You” slows things right down, which is a shame as it disrupts the albums’ rhythm up to this point, however it does allow Levine’s vocal to take centre stage without distraction caused by guitars and a thumping drum beat. Nevertheless, it is the album’s weak point thus far.
“Bet My Heart” picks things up somewhat, certainly in terms of the tempo, although the track is far from anything special, while Julia Michaels’ guest vocal on “Help Me Out” is the best thing about the track and makes the song worthy of repeat listens and of its status as a current single. “Who I Am” meanwhile has a toe-tapping rhythm which is enjoyable enough, but its lyrically basic enough to have been written by a pre-teen.
A$AP Rocky’s appearance on “Whiskey” doesn’t fit with Maroon 5’s style or the album they’re unveiling to those who listen to it and so his vocal talent is lost among lyrics that make little to no sense such as “she kissed me like a whiskey.” That part of the song is memorable, but sadly for all the wrong reasons. “Girls Like You” is only marginally better, helped by its considerable club feel which “Closure” attempts to recreate, but it’s “Denim Jacket” that returns the album to somewhat stronger and more stable ground, and brings back Levine’s (much missed at this point) falsetto, before “Visions” injects a rather reggae twist to proceedings, although, despite being so different to anything else featured so far, works rather well.
It’s a shame therefore that “Plastic Rose” undoes most of the hard work delivered by its two predecessors, but the ‘mistake’ is rectified somewhat by the arrival of 2016 ‘s lead single “Don’t Wanna Know”, featuring Kendrick Lamar, although the song would work perfectly well without his input.
Closing with “Cold” which features Future, the collection ends on a surprisingly positive note as the instrumentation and vocal blend impressively well and while the album is no modern-day classic a la Songs About Jane, and is certainly more experimental, notably thanks to Levine and THAT vocal ability, Red Pill Blues certainly won’t see Maroon 5 fade into obscurity any time soon.