Finishing second in the sixth series of The X Factor hasn’t stopped singer-songwriter Olly Murs from success. Four albums after his self-titled debut cemented his place in the Brit pop sphere, Murs’ fifth effort 24 HRS is a formulaic yet fun record of harmless club tracks.
Let’s make something clear: I am not an Olly Murs fan. Before hearing this album, I had listened to only one of his other songs, his hit Dance With Me Tonight. I liked that song, it was effortlessly catchy. It reminded me of a 50s swing dance because of its Motown baseline and quirky doo-wop. 24 HRS is something entirely different – gone are the soulful brass instruments that caught my attention with Dance With Me Tonight. With 24 HRS, Murs instead incorporates elements of synth and computer based sounds to create what, upon first listen, sounds like nothing more than a younger, more uplifting Justin Bieber knock-off. Murs has created the soundtrack for a raving secondary school dance. 24 HRS is neither new nor revolutionary; it’s an album obviously made with the intention to please a devoted fan base of Twitter obsessed tweens. Does that make it bad? No, not at all.
The album starts off strong with You Don’t Know Love, which was very obviously crafted to be a radio hit. Its pulsating beat and moody vocals give off the unbelievable impression that an Olly Murs song is capable of angst. The song reads like an inspiring late-night infomercial– don’t worry, Olly Murs is here for you. What follows is Years & Years, a piano-driven ballad that slows down the album almost too soon. Possibly my least favourite, this track sounds like it was made from a loop on an electronic keyboard. It does have a saving grace - the simplicity of the song emphasises Murs’ attractive vocals.
The next two songs, Grow Up and Unpredictable, are the highlight of the album. Grow Up pokes fun at the immaturity of an ex-girlfriend, begging her, “Know you gotta grow up / Ain’t you sick of being immature?” While still very much pop, the song strays from the rest of 24 HRS, replacing synthetic riffs with a stripped down electric guitar. Unpredictable picks up the pace again with an upbeat club-ready tempo; the tune starts off with an immediately memorable riff which effortlessly transitions into the verse. You can really imagine a frenzied choir of 12 year olds belting the anthemic chorus in all its glory.
At this point, 24 HRS sadly gets lost in itself. Each song blends into the next, creating an amalgamation of forgetful, over-packed drivel. As harmless as 24 HRS is, each track sounds like a recreation of every hit club song of the past few years. Let’s take Deeper, for example. Am I listening to Clean Bandit’s 2014 release Rather Be? Or Private, which is too similar to DNCE’s Cake By The Ocean to go unnoticed. Similarly, Murs’ Before You Go sounds creepily like a slower rendition of Shower by Becky G. I’m not sure whether Murs just uses extremely generic chord combinations or if he’s a compulsive plagiarist. I could go on, but I think we all get the point - Murs has simply showed up late to the party.