During the 90’s when British pop music was hitting a new peak and going through a glossy transformation, Steps were a welcome addition as they erupted onto the scene with ABBA-esque pop hits like Last Thing On My Mind, One For Sorrow, Deeper Shade of Blue and Stomp; all accompanied by memorable dance routines and camp costumes to engage a global pop following that helped the group shift over 20 million records before sadly bowing out in 2001.
A couple of greatest hits collections, a couple of successful reunion tours and a festival covers collection later, the band have returned with their first studio record of all new songs in 17 years in the form of Tears on the Dancefloor and we were eager to dive in and hear where the band are in their journey nearly two decades on from the release of previous studio record, 2000’s Buzz.
Teasing us early with lead single Scared of the Dark, anticipation for Tears on the Dancefloor dug in deep as we were offered the first taste of the new Steps era and we weren’t disappointment as the group served up a dancefloor worthy comeback single with as much energy and influence as the bands early studio records. A week ahead of the release of the new album, the band dished up further optimism for the new collection with the offering of album track You Make Me Whole which, while balladry is hinted at the beginning, turns into an upbeat number full of all the ingredients that makes Steps songs so memorable and uplifting.
Story Of A Heart seems like a track that was destined to happen at some point during the Steps story. Having been compared to Swedish pop juggernaut ABBA from day one because of the bands infectious pop melodies and soaring vocals, it seemed only right that the band would accept a track from ABBA founding members and songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. Having previously covered tracks from the ABBA vaults including a catchy remake of Dancing Queen for their 2011 Ultimate Collection release and taking part in the collaborative 1999 single, Thank You For The Music, Story Of A Heart furnishes the album with its token ballad and while it carries a modern energy, the number also contains a strong Super Trouper influence; tying the connection between the Swedish and English pop acts even tighter.
Happy injects a powerful Euro-dance vein nice and early into Tears on the Dancefloor. While the lyrics are somewhat melancholic; lines like “I’ve got a different view now, I used to be so alive” and the the chorus’ declaration of “we used to be happy” tell a very different musical story. The marriage of an uptempo beat, the strong 90’s pop influence and bittersweet lyrics offer Tears on the Dancefloor its strongest inclusion next to its lead single.
As fans had hoped, the groups latest effort is propelled along by uptempo and choreography craving gold nuggets; the album offering a sole ballad early on before soaring through high-octane pop numbers like the infectious Firefly and Glitter and Gold that resonate well alongside the bands impressive back catalogue.
Further into the record, Neon Blue offers the album a joint vocal pop anthem complete with a Little Mix-esque chorus and an uplifting message of unity as the band sings “all we need is me and you” before the record closes with the full-throttle I Will Love Again. Dipping their toes back into 90’s waters, the group borrow the former Lara Fabian hit and give it a storming Steps makeover with Claire belting out the number with conviction and stamina.
No More Tears On The Dancefloor is another potent addition to the record and one that allows the bands male counterparts, H and Lee to finally step forward and deliver verses of their own; turning out a gorgeous mid-tempo duet in the shape of Shape Between Us and giving Claire, Faye and Lisa time to catch their breathes.
As with the bulk of Step’s back catalogue, Tears on the Dancefloor applies focus not just to the bands dance routine worthy pop gems but to the groups flawless vocals which can be heard on every track provided within this new record; Claire and Faye leading the way with their soaring talents taking Tears on the Dancefloor to dizzying heights.
Its been a long time coming for fans to be gifted with an album of all new songs from one of our favourite 90’s outfits but Tears on the Dancefloor has made up for any lost time. Overflowing with tracks to get the blood pumping and the voices sore from singing along with the group, Claire, Faye, Lisa, H and Lee have outdone themselves with the delivery of a comeback album to be well and truly proud of and one that will translate well on stage when they take to the road at the end of the year with an arena tour of the UK to support the new collection.