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truly talented
post Jun 6 2015, 12:04 PM
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Attitude magazine


We're always keen for the success of a Will Young album, since he and we go back a long time, but we were a tad thrown upon first hearing his comeback single Love Revolution. It's a foot stomping, Motown-esque track built upon Tomcrafts 2002 hit Loneliness, which finds Will in much the same territory as he himself was in that same year. Reader, we fretted. But the rest of the album tells a different story.

Elsewhere he's writing more honestly, about his own life and loves, following on the same musical path as his previous album Echoes, with that album's producer Jim Eliot (?) - whose work with Ellie Goulding also hints through. Will channels epic synth-pop of Hurts on Brave Man and Like A River, without sounding too try-hard, and both songs are among the most personal lyrically. Joy is a track that recalls Kylie All The Lovers -and with about as much lyrical content - but it's a fun pop song all the same. Thank You is a track that's got the feel of a modern Take That doing some old school Beatles, and it's on point for Will.

The album hangs together well, and it's a good solid offering from Will after a couple of years away, but it doesn't smash the mould from which we're used to hearing his music cast. Nevertheless it's become a regular fixture on the Attitude iPod, and we're very happy to see this great British male back on the scene alongside newbies like Sheeran and Smith.
Guardian Album Review.

Will Young: 85% Proof review – ballads of silvery regret and loss
3 / 5 stars

“I just want a lover,” sang Will Young on a song of that name in 2011. Four years and another break-up later, he’s recorded an answer song. “I don’t need a lover, don’t need another heartache to forgive and forget,” he broods on 85% Proof’s closing track, I Don’t Need a Lover – and this time he’s a long way from the slicked-back funk of the first song. This one is a piano ballad dominated by a vocal performance of silvery regret and loss. It’s a reminder of how good Young can be (and how much he has influenced Sam Smith). His strength as a vocalist is the thread stitching together an album that is otherwise pleasantly all over the shop. The detached synthiness of his last album is supplanted by get-happy R&B clappiness on Love Revolution, and Latinate hedonism on U Think I’m Sexy, but there’s also symphonic balladeering on the Gold and Brave Man – his first political songs, though their pro-individualism message is obfuscated by platitudes about “believing in me”. It’s an album of ups and downs, but secures Young’s position as an artist who’s good to have around.

The Times

Will Hodgkinson
Published 1 minute ago
Rated to 2 stars

In 2002 Will Young won the first series of Pop Idol, the show that paved the way for The X Factor and inflicted Simon Cowell on to the national consciousness. Yet unlike the vast majority of talent show micro-stars who burn brightly on Saturday night televisions before fizzling out, Young has endured. He has done about as well, in fact, as a former Pop Idol contestant could reasonably hope to do.

Young has had three No 1 albums, won two Brit awards and sold more than eight million albums. In 2013 he starred in a West End run of Cabaret for which his gleefully malevolent performance as the Emcee garnered an Olivier nomination. He has put his name behind any number of charities. You won’t find many people with a bad word to say about him, which is one of the reasons why he has stayed in the game when so many of his fellow talent show alumni haven’t. And his new album is a concerted effort to make sure it stays that way.

85% Proof is a serviceable, sparky pop album of Radio 2-style accessibility: vaguely soulful with lots of piano and orchestral parts to give a sense of emotional swell and Young’s light and unremarkable but pleasantly tuneful voice singing words of love, pain and togetherness. It’s neither shiny and camp nor complex and deep and it falls into a light-entertainment slipstream heading straight towards Terry Wogan’s radio show.

“I’m a brave man, running through the rain, not scared to feel the pain,” Young tells us on Brave Man, which, with its backing singers, soaring strings and thunderous drums, recalls the Verve’s 1997 classic Lucky Man but without the overwhelming sense of loss.
He goes into full-on sad mode on Promise Me, which builds from quiet pangs of loneliness into a belting dance anthem. With the right number of flaming sambucas inside you on a Mediterranean holiday this could sound meaningful, but on a cold, grey morning has no impact whatsoever.

The most notable thing about 85% Proof is that it doesn’t seem like a modern piece at all, more like an easy listening album by a crooner from decades past; one that you might pick up in a charity shop. In fact, Young is oddly reminiscent of Leo Sayer. Blue is not so different from the curly-haired one’s You Make Me Feel Like Dancing. I Don’t Need a Lover is a cousin of Sayer’s lonesome classic When I Need You, but not as good. Young is one of pop’s nice guys, but this paean to inoffensiveness is not his finest hour. (Out Mon, Island)
Daily Star

WILL YOUNG / 85% Proof

" The original OG has become a kick boxer since he left planet pop, but mercifully he's remembered a good tune. Slow brooding tracks including Like A River are more grown up and a refreshing sign this artist is no longer desperate to mimic other chart hits. "

Will Young - 85% Proof
Soulful versatility with the tunes to match...
CLASHMUSIC / REVIEWS / 22 · 05 · 2015

It's hard to imagine Will Young was especially thrilled when former label RCA opted to conclude a cash-in compilation of his work to date with an execrable cover of 'The Long And Winding Road' in partnership with Gareth Gates and orchestrated by Simon Cowell in the immediate aftermath of their time on Pop Idol.

It's a stage in Young's varied career that he has long since musically surpassed, even if the slight suspicion surrounding talent show acts loiters in the background. The grand chasm in quality between it and the same release's opening track 'Jealousy', from 2011's 'Echoes', served to highlight how far he had come in 10 years.

Now safely ensconced with Island Records, Young has seized the initiative and delivered a 10-track set containing some of the most deliciously instinctive and relentlessly endearing pop music you'll hear this year. '85% Proof' contains a northern soul belter, a glorious stadium-sized smash, several sparse piano ballads and a simmering, mid-paced teaser deploying the classic mid-song deceptive pause to majestic effect.

All of which is to say that this is just short of a masterclass in delivering a mature pop record, by which only the cold-hearted could remain utterly unmoved. The key to it all is Young's phenomenally expressive voice, which soars all over these songs, centre-stage and utterly commanding at all times.

While there are a few forgettable moments – notably 'U Think I'm Sexy', which deploys a looping, distorted horn sample that's almost as disappointing as the spelling of its title, while 'Thank You' feels a bit Robbie-does-Oasis before it goes all overblown backing vocals at the end – the highs are substantial.

Lead single 'Love Revolution' you'll already know, its bombastic chorus and delirious bridge built around clapping proving instantly memorable. Add in the shamelessly catchy euphoria of the aptly titled 'Joy', the MGMT synths that elevate 'Blue' to a point of majesty and the elegant, stately polish of 'Gold' and it's hard not to argue that this is his most accomplished record to date.

There's plenty of studio polish here and the genres crossed are legion, but that's what we want from our pop stars, isn't it? Big songs, big choruses and melody upon melody seem a realistic expectation. '85% Proof' delivers all of this but, as if to highlight that the key here is one man's distinctive voice ahead of any other parts of the process, there's a simple statement made.

The album's finest moment, 'I Don't Need A Lover', concludes proceedings with a minimal backdrop to accompany Young's emotive falsetto built around a piano and some relatively reserved strings. It's quite sincerely breathtaking and a reminder that no matter who the artist or the genre, a well-written song paired with a striking voice is all it takes to capture the listener's ear.

No matter where this particular career began, only the most churlish muso might fail to acknowledge the quality of this compact album. Will Young is in fine form and, on this evidence, about 70% great.


Words: Gareth James
The Telegraph

Will Young, 85% Proof, review: 'nice to see him back'
Young is beautifully vulnerable on power ballads, but this record could have made more use of the original Pop Idol winner's talent, says Helen Brown
3 out of 5 stars

In the four years since the original Pop Idol released his last album (the platinum-selling Echoes), X Factor runner-up Olly Murs has slipped into his shoes as the first chap of family-friendly pop.
Young seemed to have moved on: he was nominated for an Olivier Award for his performance as the Emcee in Cabaret, presented an ITV documentary about Magritte and blogged about politics for the Huffington Post.
But now the 37-year-old has bounced back into the game with a new label, new management and feeling like “a new artist”. But the debut single – Love Revolution – is a disappointing reworking of Tomcraft’s 2009 dance anthem Loneliness, as a finger-clickin’ Sixties soul swinger.
Will Young: 'I wasn't happy. I was rude to people. I was a baby...'
Luckily the rest of the record finds Young on better form. U Think I’m Sexy wears its dance-floor funk more lightly and he is beautifully vulnerable on power ballads Brave Man, Promise Me and Like a River. He can still knock out a lyric with the smooth control and tender craftsmanship of a glass blower, letting notes harden from molten emotion to slivers of fragility.
The record could do with more tunes to make use of that talent, but it’s still nice to see him back.
Download this Promise Me

Mail on Sunday 4stars

Now a career pop star Young can afford to go four years between albums. Having finally returned, he's found a balance in his sound, dialling up electronic sophistication on Brave Man, soul on Love Revolution, and adding a sincere piano ballad or two Gold and I don't need a lover, a big communal floor shaker on Joy and a gospel kiss off on Thank You for his most rounded effort to date. Reviewed by Adam Woods
Sunday Times

Young's resistance to trends has served him well - his tasteful relationship tales breeze through eras and influences, while slick production makes them sound modern. His solid sixth album gets interesting when he ramps up the flamboyance factor - the result, perhaps, of his stint on stage in Cabaret.
Thank You, an ode to an ex, belies the tame title with bitchy lyrics. On Blue, he could be Mika covering ELO, while the Abbaesque Joy boasts a chorus so bombastic it practically spins out of the speakers. In sum 80 per cent of this album will waltz onto Radio 2

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truly talented
post Jun 6 2015, 12:22 PM
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Digital Spy

Will Young 85% Proof album cover.
For his fifth studio album, Will Young finally got to make the record he always wanted to with 2011's Echoes. It was a triumph, and proved after a decade since being crowned the original Pop Idol, the singer-songwriter had matured from manufactured talent show winner to a full-bodied artist in his own right. However, it left Will at a bit of a crossroads; does he repeat the template of his pièce de résistance, or continue to explore just how far he can take his sound?

The final outcome, 85% Proof, falls somewhere in the middle. After leaving the record and management company he had been with since his Idol victory back in 2002, Young signed a new deal with Island and re-teamed with Echoes songwriters Jim Eliot and Mima Stilwell. Five sessions later and the bulk of the 10-track album was done, but despite the compact time frame and tight-knit team, the overall soundscape isn't as cohesive as you would expect from such circumstances.

Opening number 'Brave Man' is the obvious bridge between the two albums; Will is defiant amongst the expansive production of strings and dramatic beats, his vocal growling more as it reaches the peak. This exposed dialogue is continued further on 'Promise Me' as he admits "I'm ready to love again" on the airy chorus, its crescendo stacked ever higher with urgent beats and persistent piano. Along with the pop-noir march of 'Like a River', they feel like the natural successors to Echoes' acute vulnerability, baring the depths of Will's soul in teardrops of discerning pop.

But Will made a mindful decision to be more inclusive for this record, acknowledging that some of his previous music has been marginally more internalised. These catch-all moments - which seemingly came with an inclination to explore new styles - are manifested in lead single 'Love Revolution'; a buoyant '60s-sounding soul number calling for blanket happiness with an ingenious sample of Tomcraft's 'Loneliness'. Elsewhere, it's the seductive funk of 'U Think I'm Sexy' and the breezy piano chorus of 'Joy' that lift the album out of Will's deepest thoughts and into a more instinctively relatable zeal.

It means the album comes across slightly scattershot by its conclusion, but Will's undeniably distinctive tone guides it through. His delivery is markedly more understated than what we've heard from him before, but its texture and inflection is all the more compelling for it. Sonically, 85% Proof may be a drunkenly drifting blend of genres, but it's Will's sober honesty and solid standing as pop songwriter that means it won't give you a hangover.

Tracks to download: 'Like a River', 'Brave Man', 'U Think I'm Sexy', 'I Don't Want a Lover'

**** 4 stars
Herald Scotland

Will Young

85% Proof


Will Young has kept himself busy since reclaiming the No 1 album slot four years ago with Echoes. He's switched labels, won praise for his turn as The Emcee in Cabaret in the West End, penned some politicised blogs for the Huffington Post, taken up martial arts and undergone somatic experience therapy. He's also, some might say, lost ground to Olly Murs and Sam Smith.

New album 85% Proof goes a fair bit of the way to claiming that ground back. His lyrics are still too woolly to deserve the respect afforded his online musings (Brave Man suffers from too much self-motivation manual guff about being "not afraid to topple, not afraid to fall") and you've got to worry about the personal life of someone who goes from the funky thump of I Just Want A Lover to the piano isolation of I Don't Need A Lover from one album to the next.

But there are times here (notably when he avoids that reedy falsetto) when his voice is on top form. The Northern Soul stylings of Love Revolution take Smith on at his own nostalgic game, there are simple old-school pop pleasures to be had in Joy (its escalating verse as catchy as its arena-sized chorus) and there's a dreamy quality to Gold that doesn't allow the strings to take over.

Let's imagine, then, that the image on the album cover is Young coming off the ropes, ready for the next round.

Celeb Mix

There is just something about Will Young, whether he be in skin-clad lycra or in brightly-coloured polar neck vests he just oozes sex appeal. And when you think it can’t get any better the ‘Light my Fire’ singer is setting the sound waves ablaze with this his 6th album.

Will Young who was the innagural winner of Pop Idol back in 2002 has gone from strength to strength. The first single from this new album has a certain old-school pop quality to it which will result in uncontrollable foot-tapping. However as much as I enjoy a good beat I honestly am in awe of the simply stunning track entitled ‘I Don’t need a Lover’ which beautifully showcases his unmistakable falsetto tone.

The album has a very mature, classy sound with a spooky sound which seems reverberate throughout every track. From the choral backing in the opening track, ‘Brave Man’, to the tangible coolness which like airconditiong becomes apparent in ‘Like a River’ the album indicates a new side to our pop prince.

This is most definitely one of my top albums so far of 2015, if you don’t believe me give his new single Love Revolution a listen.
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Entertainment Focus 3*

Posted on May 25, 2015 By Pip Ellwood Albums
Record Company: Island
Release Date: May 25, 2015
Release Type: Album
Tracklisting: 1. Brave Man
2. Promise Me
3. Love Revolution
4. You Think I'm Sexy
5. Gold
6. Like A River
7. Joy
8. Blue
9. Thank You
10. I Don't Need A Lover
11. Dare
12. Where Are You Tonight
13. You Keep On Loving Me
14. Always On My Mind

Since winning Pop Idol back in 2002, Will Young has beaten the odds and established himself as one of the most successful and best-loved male artists in the UK. He has released five studio albums, all of which have been certified at least platinum with three topping the UK album charts. He’s scored four UK number one singles and more recently he left his long time home at Sony Music and moved to Island Records. Sixth album 85% Proof, his first as part of his new label deal, comes 4 years after last studio album Echoes.

Fans were caught a little off guard when Young released the lead track from 85% Proof. Love Revolution marked a complete departure from the dance rhythms of Echoes instead exploring a stomping soul sound with samples from DJ Tomcraft’s dance hit Loneliness. The single proved divisive with fans and it’s the first of singles not to chart on the UK Top 40. Ahead of the album’s release Young unveiled a video for album track Like a River, a song that is an atmospheric and moody track.

Musically 85% Proof is a little all over the place. The common thread is Young’s distinctive vocal performance but sonically no two songs sound alike. The album opens with the epic Brave Man that swoops and soars with dramatic string melodies giving way to electronic bleeps. Elsewhere on the record Young serves up soulful pop on U Think I’m Sexy, delivers a Beatles-esque ballad on Thank You, and soars on the hopeful Joy.

One of the highlights on the record is Promise Me, a song that could easily have made it onto the Echoes tracklisting. The song is a ballad at heart that explodes into optimistic dance rhythms with Young’s vocal being one of the best on the record.

The album comes to a close with the gentle I Don’t Need a Lover, a piano ballad that gives Sam Smith a run for his money. The song utilises Young’s falsetto, which he packs with emotion. It’s one of the most emotive tracks on the record and one of the best.

The deluxe edition of the album features an additional 4 tracks including a cover of Gwen McRae’s Always on my Mind. Of the other three tracks – Dare, Where Are You Tonight and You Keep On Loving Me – Young explores mostly ballad territory with You Keep On Loving Me being the finest of the bunch.

85% Proof isn’t as instant a record as Echoes. On the whole it lacks cohesion, something that is quit strange for a singer whose output has for the most part been very cohesive. 85% Proof is an album that you need to live with and listen to closely. It could be Young’s most personal record to date and it should solidify his place as one of the best male singers we have.

The Digital Fix

Will Young - 85% Proof
In Review17:11 on 31st May 2015By Gary Kaill
Retaining a shed load of kudos for being the only Pop Idol (ask your mum) contestant to properly tell Cowell to go f*** himself, the most credible and enduring product of the talent show conveyor continues to mock the whole sorry, disintegrating exercise by being, you know, good. It might have taken him a couple of albums of suits-satisfying stodge to hit his stride but, as demonstrated by a switch from his stock-in-trade robust balladry to the crisp, electro-influenced sheen of 2011's Echoes, the only game Will Young is playing, nearly 15 years after he upset both the bookies and Gareth Gates' (again, ask your mum) dreams of stardom, is his own.

If lead single 'Love Revolution' (a slab of Ronson-esque robo-soul engineered around the guts of Tomcraft's trance behemoth 'Happiness') has done its job, new paymasters Island should be laughing all the way to their AGM. On paper, it's unholy folly but, sporting sharp, Stax-y remodelling, it's a scene-setting blast. 'U Think I'm Sexy' goes Prince with both title and groove. 'Promise Me', whose frantic rhythms are a beat away from drum and bass, makes for a trio of bustling big 'uns. But it’s the ballads that shine this time around, not least the grandeur and candour of 'Thank You' whose catalogue of love crimes doesn’t speak at all well for the accused, Young switching the hook to a whispered "f*** you…" at its close. Throughout, of course, he sings like the stupidly gifted genius that his Gates-loving (Gatesgate?) sulky ex-paymaster somehow never quite dared admit.

If you're one of those difficult-to-please types who bleats about their love for "good" pop, pop but only when it's "done well", here's your precious 'pop' in an uncommonly advanced guise, expertly executed. True to its name, 85% Proof is a heady and bewitching brew, superior by far to its watered-down, mainstream equivalents. Seek it out because it's soulful, intelligent and inventive in ways it really has no right to be. Buy it, not for the Will Young fan in your life but for someone who, like the worst kind of bore, still bemoans his dodgy provenance. And do see him live where the voice gets to really shine and his easy charm continues to fool his legion of largely female fans that they're still in with a chance.
A heady and bewitching brew.
In 10 Mag Sunday Post

85% Proof Will Young

"After a four-year musical hiatus, the former Pop Idol winner Will Young is back with his sixth studio album.
At first listen, 85%Proof has two stand-out tracks - Love Revolution and U Think I'm Sexy- the former being the first single to be released from the album. Pop-soul track Love Revolution, sampling Tomcraft's 2003 dance anthem Loneliness, has a carefully crafted vintage feel, perfect for lazy summer evenings.
This is largely a ballad album, Like A River has a thumping riff, constant throughout and lending an almost dark twist on what you'd normally expect from a former reality show winner, with Young's falsetto tone used to great effect.
Overall a good listen, the 36-year old singer has found his stride and musically comes of age, having crafted a collection of songs that feel like they've been around for a long time. "

Our verdict **** Proof that talent show winners needn't be one-hit wonders.

Music OMH

Will Young – 85% Proof

(Island) UK release date: 25 May 2015

by Michael Hubbard | posted on 1 Jun 2015 in albums

Will Young - 85% ProofReviews of Will Young‘s albums these days fall into two distinct camps; those who must mention that he first became famous on some TV talent contest long forgotten and ignore the passing of time since, and others who accept that, as he ventures into his second major label deal, he’s more than just a pretty – and these days hirsute – face; a career that’s lasted well over a decade in pop world, that most fickle of places, surely has something of note about it.

Young isn’t so young these days, but on the evidence of 85% Proof, his sixth album, he’s maturing like the finest bottle of scotch. By down the years changing the bare minimum of his formula for success – universally vague lyrical sentiment over seemingly new yet always somehow familiar soul-tinged pop music – and evolving only at a pace his audience can keep up with, he is making his career last. With a few exceptions, 85% Proof’s songs – and much of his material to date – are unremarkable pop factory fare, but they’re polished with loving care and showcase the one thing above all else Young has always had going for him; that unmistakable voice.

Having left Sony, where he’s been berthed since his first release, and signing with Island, his star status – at least in his homeland – is again underlined. This is a talent contest winner, lest we forget, who’s been in a film with Judi Dench, appeared as a panelist on Question Time and taken the role of the MC in Cabaret on a London stage, and he’s here demonstrating the professionalism he brings to all of these outings. To some it will all be limply dull but, in its absolutely focused and uncompromising way, it’s curiously admirable.

It is certainly true that these songs are not going to change the world any time soon. U Think I’m Sexy doesn’t know whether to agree with or scoff at the idea. Love Revolution sounds less like an insurrection of the heart and more like a cat being molested, while Gold conversely is so sedate as to be on its back making mewling noises as its tummy is tickled and its paws punch the air. Promise Me sounds like an Emeli Sandé outtake; Thank You covers similar territory, all gospelly ladies, Coldplay-lite piano and shimmy not-ever-too-fast beats. When you bring nice Will home to meet your mother and prod him to do his thing and get singing, this is the material the old lady will instantly love.

In amongst all this are those reminders that straightforward melodies and a unique voice maketh not only a great song but, in Young’s case, a man and his career. He’s able to sound strident one moment and incredibly vulnerable the next, and never does he seem to be acting. Opener Brave Man is a case in point – a classic Young track that shows the way to the latter-day likes of Sam Smith, it lets his typically intelligent interpretation of the lyrics emote naturally and without histrionics (he’s never one for those). Later on, Like A River sports some attention-grabbing falsetto crooning over a needling guitar riff, insistent bass drum and stark piano notes, reminding of Older era George Michael. It’s in this world that he’s most comfortable; as with Jealousy, from his last album Echoes, I Don’t Need A Lover transcends its shiny, pop-to-order surroundings and dazzles.

But what 85% Proof is, above all, is comfortable, with all the pros and cons that entails. While it’d have been nice to hear some different musical explorations underpinning that soaraway voice – Fred Falke‘s remixes of two of Young’s tracks a few years ago hinted at a chillout dance vibe that suited him superbly – and he could do with at least one earwormy banger with which to remind the world beyond the high society calendar of the Home Counties that he’s more than just a well-spoken crooner with a pleasing face, 85% Proof will delight fans that these days include royals, celebrities and not a few music snobs who’d otherwise have thought themselves rather above such inoffensive, polished pop fare.

Will Young
85% Proof
added: 3 Jun 2015 // release date: 1 Jun 2015 // label: Island Records
reviewer: David Spencer

Will Young - 85% Proof -
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Although it is just over a decade since Will Young shot to fame, it is remarkable to think how much times have changed. Pop Idol was so much more innocent, seemingly less corrupted by corporate demands. Even though it was 2002, Young couldn't even be thoroughly open about his sexuality, which now seems quite extraordinary. Since then Young's career has always been more interesting than your standard talent show winner. This is his sixth studio album, but first with a new label and an album he says he's always wanted to make.

So what's changed in the four years since his last record? It appears that Young has done a lot of growing up. On opening Brave Man, he talks of scars from "years gone by" and perhaps there has been some collateral damage from this maturing. Over his last few records there have been hints of the direction Young could settle on but it was the sublime collaboration with Groove Armada (History) that showed what he could do. Brave Man is exactly that kind of song. Young's voice still has that vulnerability that captured the housewife vote in 2002, but mixed with sweeping melodies and dance rhythms it gains extra depth.

Album highlight Like A River displays this to full effect, a track with a thumping under current, wonderfully produced and lending itself to dance mixes. The closer Dare captures the same sensual mood. If only Young could do more of this. Elsewhere there's a little too much simple pop, as if he feels the need to still keep some of those original fans happy. There's the Take That pounding of Blue, while Joy is the sought of song he should have stopped doing 10 years ago.

Better though is the single Love Revolution, with its Motown feel and Promise Me's extra subtlety and emotion. While not quite the album it could have been, 85% Proof shows that Young is still a serious artist for us Brits to be proud of. Most of all the album exudes confidence. Given this sure footing, Young could be heading towards bigger and better things.

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post Jun 6 2015, 02:57 PM
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Renowned for Sound.

Published On June 6, 2015 | By Andja Curcic | Music
British singer-songwriter Will Young has released an abundance of successful albums in the UK after taking out Pop Idol in 2002. Young continues his exploration of the electro pop sound in previous album Echoes with his latest album 85% Proof. The album is brought together by a motif of echoic sound and reverberated piano which fills in the empty sound created by a lack of layers. Each track has a nice detail of variety which ultimately makes the simplistic lyrics come alive.
Will Young 85 ProofThe first track Brave Man opens with dramatic vocal reverb and a thumping bass. With the entering of cinematic-style strings in the chorus, the track finds a climactic and dramatic sound that feels immensely empowering. This is one of the best tracks on the album because it really connects with an idea and builds and breaks the string motif. Promise Me uses the generic four chord formula and begins with a ballad-style only to kick into electro full swing. This song is a great change from the first track and the running drum beat adds a layer of change to the rhythm of the album. Love Revolution changes to a funkier style complete with twangy guitar, funky bass and a vintage filter on the vocals. This track is a fun throwback that surprisingly stays true to the genre.
You Think I’m Sexy continues the funk vibe, however with a greater focuses on the good ol’ trumpet hook. This track definitely shows a complexity in musical production with a collection of different sounds that magically blend. Gold slows down the pace with a calm ballad that is filled with emotion. Like A River tackles the bass drum kick and really showcases Young’s vocals. Joy is the only track that is disappointing with a strikingly underwhelming sound the feels a little too Broadway musical. I Don’t Need A Lover is the best track on the album as it really accentuates Young’s vocals with a beautiful falsetto and dark ambient style. The track is lyrically simplistic but mesmerising in musical atmosphere. What eventuates in this track is a heart-wrenching song that rings universal in its bittersweet tale of love.
Overall, 85% Proof is a really good electro pop album that while tame in many of its songs, shows how a simplistic idea can achieve great things in a focus on musical production. The tracks in this album have layered complexity with motifs that fade in and out and create a colourful musical experience. While every track may not be a mainstream hit, the theme that Young explores is evident and is successful in telling a story. Young explores and transcends ambient pop with a album filled with heart and one that doesn’t feel like an album from a previous talent show winner.
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post Jul 30 2015, 12:40 PM
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Kicking off a new contract with Island, Will Young also seizes the opportunity of a new label to retreat from the electro stylings of 2011's Echoes on 2015's 85% Proof. He doesn't entirely leave synthesizers behind: the album's opener, "Brave Man," is as sleek and glassy as the best Ryan Tedder and he revisits urban soundscapes on "Like a River." Usually, though, Young spends much of 85% Proof alternating between effervescent neo-Motown bounce -- a sound best heard on the single "Love Revolution" -- and stately soulful marches reminiscent of Adele and Sam Smith. While the latter may or may not have considered Young an influence, there's little doubt that Young isn't shy about operating in a post-Sam Smith world, happy to indulge in a bit of high-thread-count soul so melodramatic it feels operatic. Because he has vocal chops, this doesn't feel like either a stretch or thievery, and while it'd be nice if the slower songs were as sticky as the speedier tunes, this nevertheless maintains a classy, well-manicured mood throughout.
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Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 24th October 2016 - 08:08 PM