Will Young – Echoes

Will Young’s brand of mum-pop was getting tired. Over the years the quality songs have always been there but lost, up to their eyeballs in turgid Radio 2 schmaltz.

The writing on Echoes is his best yet and with Richard X producing the lot this is not only the record of Will’s career but a contender for the best of the year.

On lead single ‘Jealousy’ he’s accepted the fact that he’s fighting a losing battle: “Watching you walk I followed you there, standing too close it’s hurting.” He utters, having clearly been to the Robyn school of sadism the tinkling pianos and pounding synthesizers build only to drop out for a reflective sigh in the middle eight. Oh Will you are a glutton for punishment.

Will’s delivery is at its most vulnerable and believable with a running theme of loss, regret and reflection making this his most cohesive and personal album in which he sounds the most comfortable since winning pop idol a decade ago.

Startlingly beautiful highlights ‘Silent Valentine’ and ‘Lie Next To Me’ perfectly capture the knife to the gut, stomach dropping, lump in the throat feeling of encountering an ex.

The latter’s bold honesty soars over a clattering beat, the simple couplet of: “Some people don’t work well together; it’s nice to see you again” epitomising a battle between head and heart, not saying enough but then saying too much. Amazing.

The former is, quite simply, the best song he has ever sung. A humungous ‘Time After Time’, Ultravox, Alison Moyet ballad where Will’s voice aches over stop start drums and sleigh bells.

The tempo’s lifted by the disco struts of ‘Good Things’ and ‘I Just Want A Lover’ but even these are tinged with sadness. For all of the filthy baselines and authentic inaudible background wailing from Will there’s still: “Friday seems so easy, Saturday is hard I just want a lover to ease my broken heart.”

The Pet Shop Boys styling’s of pop powerhouses ‘Runaway’ and ‘Losing Myself’, with gloriously 80s call and response chorus’ and retro production loops, and the haunting piano lament ‘Outsider’ make this a consistent, warm and heartfelt dance record (which don’t come around too often).

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