Fighting their way to expand their fanbase is British boyband The Wanted with their latest album Battleground. My feelings towards the 11-track CD by Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness, Tom Parker and Nathan Sykes, definitely has me battling my inner fangirl and objective side. However, I promise you I try my best to be extremely objective in the following review.
First single Gold Forever was the official 2011 Comic Relief charity single. It's an odd fit into the last track of Battleground because it actually works more as a bridge between their debut album and their latest emotionally-charged dance-pop sound - equal parts upbeat and anthemic.
Singles Glad You Came and Lightning are more of the synth-heavy sound that we have come to familiarize with The Wanted's current sound. The message might be little too risque for their younger fanbase, but then again, it's part of the appeal, isn't it? And it certainly fits their image.
Latest single Warzone has a very literal, yet thought-provoking music video filmed in Brooklyn, New York, that I feel was a job well done by Director X. The song itself tugs arduously on the listener's heartstrings, with end-of-the-world sounding humming mid-song, and Max's heart-wrenching vocals. I really have to take my hat off the boys for this song, as it's a very well executed and written song.
Invincible, on the other hand, is one badly written song. A 100% dance song and utterly forgettable. Of all the songs that talk about drinking and getting wasted (Hangover, Raise Your Glasses etc), this one just blends in with the rest into a bland, repetitive, product of commercialization. I just felt the boys could have done better with another song choice.
Ooh-ing their way into the teenage fangirl's heart is I Want It All. Reminding me very much of an old Robbie Williams song Angels, perhaps an updated version was what they were trying to achieve with this. Although it doesn't compare at all to what Williams achieved with Angels, it is refreshing to hear the boys singing their hearts out.
While I can dispute the message being sent by Lie To Me for as long as I want to, I will not. That flaw aside, I do like this new sound The Wanted are trying for. Definitely something different than their anthemic singles, this could possibly be their best bet at their next single, should they be coming out with another one, because frankly, all the other single-friendly songs in the album have been exhausted.
I liken Battleground to watching a movie trailer. Especially the fact that trailers are usually cut expertly to feature the best bits and make the movie appealing to viewers. Similarly, with Battleground, the singles were the best bits, drawing you into listening to the whole album, but then you realize it really isn't as good as you thought it would be. I would have liked it better if the boys decided to mix things up a little by experimenting with a few more acoustic songs, along the lines of I Want It All, because I know they can harmonize well together. Their vocals are pretty amazing live and it would be a shame to let it be obscured by the current electronica that's achieving world domination today.
All in all, it is a good, but not great, album. Their debut was perhaps much stronger overall as an album, but the singles on Battleground are possibly able to carry much of the burden from the other songs that may pull the score down.
Track Cuts: Gold Forever, Glad You Came, Lightning, Warzone, I Want It All, Lie To Me