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Unlike the other boy bands currently part of a new teen idol resurgence, The Wanted’s solid brand of electro-pop transcends much of the typical boy band material to ensure its appeal beyond a teen demographic.
For example, the crunchy “Glad You Came,” which has reached into the top 4 of the Billboard Hot 100, fits in perfectly beside LMFAO or Maroon 5. It’s also the strongest track on “The Wanted,” out Tuesday, April 24. The 10-song set (in the deluxe edition; the standard is seven tracks) combines selected songs from the group’s first two albums released in their native U.K. Both “Glad You Came,” and Maroon 5-like “All Time Low” topped the British charts.
Working primarily with producer/co-writer Steve Mac (Westlife, One Direction, Kelly Clarkson), the quintet had a hand in some of the songs, but also turned to such top hitmeisters as Diane Warren and Claude Kelly. Each one of the five —Tom Parker, Max George, Nathan Sykes, Jay McGuiness and Siva Kaneswaran—trades off on lead vocals, some more successfully than others, but all competent.
Unlike many boy bands with such a deep bench, The Wanted’s harmonies are fairly pedestrian: they occasionally sing together, but there are none of the soaring multi-part harmonies, such as on Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.”
The songs, for the most part, are formulaic tales of love lost and found, although the band throws in various flourishes: strings on “All Time Low” an electronic sawing synth that runs through ballad “Heart Vacancy,” a Moby-like,swirling dance rhythm on “Satellite.” As with most endeavors that appeal to the broadest possible audience, the tracks are polished to a predictable sheen, with all of the edges sanded off. They seldom reach for great depth, but certainly a number of the songs, including the dramatic “Warzone,” exceed beyond the lightweight pop ditty.
There’s plenty here for radio to grab on to after “Glad You Came” has run its course, including driving, irresistible “Lose My Mind,” which is tailor-made for a “Glee” remake, or the aforementioned “Satellite,” but for all its obvious effort, “The Wanted” left me wanting.