Review: John Newman – Revolve
It’s hard to tell John Newman’s work off. The 25-year-old is obviously tremendously talented and a hit-making machine in his own right. Why am I having so much trouble reviewing his latest record, “Revolve”, then?
After a few years of unquestionable bliss with three #1 singles (two of those as a featured artist) and a debut record that entered the UK Album Chart at number one, it was clear that John Newman’s comeback had to be quite powerful if he wanted to keep himself at the top of the game. Here we are now: two singles later, “Revolve” managed to grab a #3 in the albums chart, but it seems slightly far from the impact that “Tribute” two years ago.
By now you must have already heard both singles – “Come and Get It” was one of our favourite summer songs and, despite having a hard time crawling up the Official Singles Chart (last week it was nowhere to be seen), the collaboration with Charlie Wilson “Tiring Game” seems to be all over the place right now.
The problem is that an album cannot rely purely on set of “sort-of-okay” singles. Listening to “Revolve” is a weird experience. Newman’s usual epic-60s-revival style has put him stuck in a paradox. On one side, you feel like almost any of the songs could be a successful single. On the other, barely anything stands out and you feel like you could be listening to the very same song for almost an hour. And it’s a shame. Tracks like “All My Heart” or “Something Special” could totally be on the list of upcoming singles by the Yorkshire musician, but it’s not like they’re any different than “Lights Down” or “Never Give It Up”, for instance. The powerful vocal intro is there, the sticky chorus is there, the beat is there and so is the grand instrumental background. With nearly every song in the album sharing features with all the others, there seems to be barely any space for creativity and innovation, which used to be some of Newman’s trademarks in a way.
John Newman has proved himself innumerous times during the last couple of years, being an outstanding singer and music writer, which had put him far ahead of other pop stars out there. However, if he wants to keep being a reference for the latest generation of mainstream artists, he can’t be stuck in a formula.