By Hannah Fitzpatrick
Remember Boyzone? Apparently they’re still recording, I had no idea either. Anyway, the boyz – or let’s face it, men, they’re not kidding anyone any more – are now in their 21st year together, and released a new album just in time for the Christmas market. I’m not going to spoil my review now, but I wouldn’t recommend you rush out and purchase a copy.
Boyzone’s sixth studio album features a variety of Motown covers, ranging from a poor imitation of What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, to an unlistenable version of This Old Heart of Mine. It’s perhaps appropriate that two of the album’s eleven track titles include the word ‘tears’. I’m never going to be able to hear the opening bars of You Can’t Hurry Love again without an involuntary shudder.
Being a Christmas release, there’s an obligatory feel-good seasonal track to close the album. Unfortunately, Stevie Wonder’s What Christmas Means to Me sounds like the band sat down over an eggnog, brainstormed ‘Christmas song’ and included absolutely every idea they wrote down. Jingle bells, Ronan Keating crooning lines about carolling and mistletoe over a misguided brass section – it’s the musical equivalent of Nativity 3. This version is inevitably going to end up as the backing tune to an unpopular Santa’s grotto, in a soulless shopping centre, in Rotherham. The most exciting feature of this album is the cover art, simply because Shane Lynch (previously best known for his appearance on everyone’s favourite ITV-celebrity-romance-themed-reality-show-set-on-a-tropical-island, Celebrity Love Island) is now sporting an enormous beard. Perhaps the record company is trying to trick consumers into thinking it’s a new Mumford and Sons album.
In a press release, the band have gushed that they feel ‘very lucky to have been given the chance to record such an amazing collection of songs’. They should feel lucky, I can only imagine that Chico wasn’t available that day, and the record company had to make a call at the last minute. There’s also a horrible threat to perform the album ‘live for all our great Boyzone fans around the world’; and whilst there are no confirmed gig dates for 2015, the band will inevitably be getting on the road again to perform at such great venues as Durham Cricket Club, where they appeared to a crowd of literally dozens in June last year.
To give Boyzone their due, worse mistakes have been made in the record industry; Shayne Ward, bafflingly, thought it was a good idea to release a Nickelback cover in 2010. At least you can argue that the original artists covered on Dublin to Detroit have some musical credibility. Maybe, if you try really, really hard, you can just about imagine that The Temptations were just having an off-day in the studio.
Photograph: East West Records