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Blue – ‘Heart & Soul’ album review

Blue crashed into the charts in 2001 with their debut single ‘All Rise’, which became the first of their many hits. Parent album, also called ‘All Rise’, was certified 4x Platinum in the UK and it spawned the number one hits ‘Too Close’ and ‘If You Come Back’, alongside Top 10 smash ‘Fly By II’. An edgier alternative to Westlife, Blue – Lee Ryan, Duncan James, Simon Webbe and Antony Costa – separated themselves from other boybands by sharing lead vocals and mixing urban sounds with pop. Following 2003’s ‘Guilty’, the band wouldn’t release another album for a decade and over the past near 10 years, they’ve been steadily releasing new music.

Read our interview about ‘Heart & Soul’ with Duncan James and Anthony Costa

21 years on from the release of ‘All Rise’, Blue is back with ‘Heart & Soul’ and what feels like a renewed focus and energy around their music. Reuniting with Hugh Goldsmith, who was the head of Blue’s original label Innocent Records’, ‘Heart & Soul’ sees the four-piece getting back into the groove mixing classic elements of the Blue sound with contemporary sounds. Lead single ‘Haven’t Found You Yet’, which opens the album, promised a return to the band’s roots with its soaring chorus and tight harmonies, and I’m pleased to say that the rest of ‘Heart & Soul’ lives up to that song.

Ahead of the album’s release fans have heard Blue’s take on the 112 R&B classic ‘Dance With Me’, the banging title track ‘Heart and Soul’, and the big ballad ‘Magnetic’. Fans of Blue’s early material would recognise that these tracks hit the Blue sweet spot but more importantly they reposition them in a modern music climate. What’s most impressive is that these songs are just the tip of the iceberg on ‘Heart & Soul’. Anyone worried that they’ve heard the best songs already don’t need to worry, there’s a lot on here to enjoy.

The mid-tempo ballad ‘This Could Be Love’ is a mighty uplifting anthem that captures the beginning of a relationship, while ‘Let’s Get Sad’ pushes Blue into new territory sonically with a jingling piano riff and a hefty beat, and a damn catchy melody you won’t be able to get out of your head. On ‘Man Do’ the foursome lean into the soulful side of what they do with silky vocals, smooth harmonies and a seriously sexy groove.

I’m torn between three tracks in terms of highlighting the standout. ‘Heart & Soul’ is an undeniable banger that will ring 2023 for many fans this New Year, while ‘Gravity’ takes an unexpected indie turn and is perhaps the most unlike Blue song on here. Coming out just on top is the house spectacle of ‘Ultraviolet’, which is a straight-up dancefloor gem that had better be on their upcoming tour set list.

The album closes with ‘Stop’, a song that really showcases what the guys can do vocally. It’s the best vocals I’ve heard from them and the vocal arrangement is quite jaw-dropping. The tones and layers are wonderful, and even better you can pick out each member’s voices. Lyrically the song is about taking a moment out from the craziness of life to think about the important things. Given the state of the world right now, it’s a message more of us need to hear.

‘Heart & Soul’ is without a doubt Blue’s best album since ‘Guilty’ and it’s one of, if not the, best pop album of 2022 (so far). Blue may have felt a little in the wilderness the past decade but they’ve definitely got their groove back with this record. This feels like the proper fourth studio album that fans deserve and it’s fantastic to hear the group back on top form. If you weren’t already excited about the upcoming arena tour, then this album will have you chomping at the bit for it.

Credit: Tag8 Music / BMG

Track list: 1. Haven’t Found You Yet 2. Dance With Me 3. This Could Be Love 4. Let’s Get Sad 5. Heart and Soul 6. Man Do 7. Magnetic 8. Gravity 9. Ultraviolet 10. Stop Record label: BMG Release date: 28th October 2022 Buy ‘Heart & Soul’ now

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Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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