Cementing his status as one of the most successful artists to come from Redbrick Music’s least favourite TV show, The X Factor, Olly Murs has secured yet another number one album with 24 HRS (his fourth, to be exact). This ties him for most successful X Factor artist with One Direction in terms of number ones, which is no mean feat. It seems that the more we hear from the Essex star, the more our love for him grows – but just how good is 24 HRS?
I will admit, I have been a huge Olly Murs enthusiast from the beginning, and a lot of the tracks on 24 HRS will tick all the boxes for his fan base. However, alike to the rest of his back catalogue, while Murs’ music is a mix of honest, romantic lyrics and his cheeky personality, it is also rife with cliché. Luckily for him, cliché is a key ingredient of pop music, and thus it works in his favour for the most part.
The lead single from 24 HRS, the infectious ‘You Don’t Know Love’, is one of the strongest examples of when Murs gets the formula just right. It is a driving number complete with female backing vocals and a banging chorus, the refrain of ‘you don’t know love’ ringing through your eardrums long after. His latest single, ‘Grow Up’, is a touch different in terms of genre but again is a great choice for release, employing Murs’ falsetto and charm to take down a former lover for their immaturity. It is a scathing number subtly hidden by its acoustic guitars and happy-go-lucky style, meaning it is even more radio-friendly. Simon Cowell will love that.
As strong as Murs is vocally, there are some instances when the song-writing formula fails a tad, particularly lyrically. ‘Unpredictable’ is a very catchy track but falls short on the lyrics, a prime example being: ‘’Cause you got me and I got you / It’s enough for us to make it through’. The sentiment is there, but there is not always a sufficient amount of originality within his work. In one sense this is not too surprising, given that Murs is a pop star who co-writes his own tracks with several people rather than a fully-fledged, guitar-wielding singer-songwriter. This is evident on further tracks. ‘Read My Mind’ consists of several funky bass-lines but no memorable lyrics, while ‘That Girl’ is catchy yet ineffective, full of tired clichés.
A track that bridges this gap is ‘Years and Years’. It only takes a couple of listens to learn all the words to the weakly metaphorical track, especially lines like ‘you signed your name on my heart saying you were here’ (come on, Murs), but the music is something to be admired. It has a wonderful piano backing throughout and is one of the highlights of Murs’ vocal ability which only seems to improve upon each LP release.
All in all, Murs has given us yet another collection of highly emotive, catchy pop numbers which I’m sure will be playing on every radio station known to man for the next year. He may not be the most innovative artist in the world, and 24 HRS may not be a contender for album of the year, but it is certainly nice to have his cheeky charm back again to cheer up those dark winter nights.
[Originally written for Redbrick Music]
Image credit: Olly Murs