Union J finished fourth on The X Factor last year and like winner James Arthur they have taken their time putting together their debut album. Whilst Jahmene Douglas raced straight to number 1 with his album earlier in the year, the boyband have been putting in the time performing live and recording. Their debut single Carry You peaked in the UK charts at number 6 and their follow-up Beautiful Life has just reached number 8. Not quite the number one hits we were expecting. Never-the-less the group has released their self-titled album this week ahead of James Arthur’s which is out on Monday.
Union J opens with the two singles and it serves as a reminder of why we’re frustrated with the group. Whilst Carry You and Beautiful Life are decent pop songs they put Union J in a bit of a no-man’s land in terms of their position in the current pop climate. Whilst the guys certainly have the looks and the feel of a boyband, there is something missing and after listening to their album it would appear that is the music.
The overall impression you get from the album is that the group have pushed in every direction going in the hope that something sticks e.g. The Saturdays current method of securing a chart hit. Two unnecessary covers aside – we didn’t need another version of Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper and No Angel’s track Amaze Me is a bit of a snoozer – the rest of the album stays around the bland and inoffensive. We’re really quite surprised as the writers involved in the album are usually pretty reliable go-to-guys for hits.
Loving You Is Easy is one of the best tracks on the album but is hampered by some seriously dodgy lyrics (we’re looking at you Beethoven), like much of the album. The track has a dancebeat that would ensure it gets played in the clubs and is one of the more uptempo moments on the record. Head in the Clouds is another moment that stands out and is a little different and more tracks like this would have made the album much, much better. We also quite like Where Are You Now but it does feel like the group are trying to emulate The Wanted a little bit.
Union J are talented guys and they deserved a better debut album than this. It’s far too safe and sticks them in mid-tempo hell designed to be lapped up by young girls, and guys, that fancy the pants off them. This is a complete waste of their talent as they can actually sing and we expected something a lot edgier. When they sang Beyonce’s Sweet Dreams during The X Factor we saw something special but that’s missing on this record. Instead Union J are stuck somewhere between One Direction and The Wanted without touching on the sometimes brilliance of either group.