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Album Review: Steps – What The Future Holds

4 min read

While 2020 has been underwhelming for so many reasons (and counting), a few reasons to smile have been bestowed upon us when it comes to releases from some of our favourite artists. The likes of Kylie and Little Mix have added career highlight contributions to the release calendar recently but it is without doubt pop quintet Steps who deliver THE record of the year as they finally unleash sixth studio record, What The Future Holds upon eager music lovers this week as the Deeper Shade of Blue, Last Thing On My Mind and Tragedy hitmakers return to salvage a brutally ravaged year.

Title track and lead single What The Future Holds cracks the lid on this pop spectacle with its modern dance influences and SIA stamped writer credits. With club roots and sparkly hook laden verses and soaring Claire-driven chorus, the track very quickly perches Steps onto pops current top shelf while also adding to the band’s repertoire one of their finest and most catchy singles to date.

ABBA-esque instantly comes to mind with the following Something In Your Eyes; a cover of a track previously released by Jenny Silver in 2011. You also can’t help but think of the Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi with its racing scales – a pure, energized vocal workout. Easily one of the years brightest earworms, the tracks a full throttle pop masterpiece that again, quickly solidifies Steps as one of the most fun and consistent pop makers in pop over the last quarter decade.

As someone that cites Roxette as my all-time favourite band, it was a delight to hear Clouds; a song that could easily have been written by the Per Gessle Swedish sound machine. Bordering on dream pop, Clouds is a gorgeous mid-tempo inclusion for What The Future Holds and a nice unwind from the albums lead singles as it gives us a moment to relax and catch our breath. It wouldn’t surprise us in the slightest if we heard this one as a future single cut from the record.

Taking some cue cards from previous disco tracks like Stomp and island themed foot thumpers like Summer of Love, the dance shoes are back on as we dive into To The Beat Of My Heart while further down the track listing Heartbreak in the City is a piano led thumper of a track that carries an almost 70’s power pop theme before strings and island drums pull Copacabana-esque’s Come and Dance With Me into an already blazing and buzzing collection.

Where previous record Tear on the Dancefloor overflowed with up-tempo numbers, What The Future Holds highlights the groups ability to deliver some truly spectacular ballads and mid-tempo gems.

Fathers Eyes is a perfectly executed ballad that transforms into an atmospheric and pulsating, almost-club inspired album centrepiece. A track about disillusioned love and feeling unable to let go of love with lyrics like “I know that people think our love is like a fantasy”, it’s one of the catchiest numbers on the record, if not forlorn and begs pressing repeat with each listen. Another highlight is offered up with To The One, a nostalgic, dreamy and musically vibrant mid-tempo stunner with its momentary nods to 80’s acts like Pet Shop Boys during the tracks verses while the chorus propels us through nostalgic noughties Steps recordings reminding us that this is a record that is not just a look toward the future of Steps but also a nod to what made us fall so deeply in love with this pop outfit back in the 90’s. 2020 synthwave at its absolute finest.

Closing ballad Hold My Heart closes the new tracks on this fantastic collection and rightfully sets Steps apart from every other act currently on the worldwide pop stage. While clearly capable of unleashing some of pops catchiest dancefloor hits, the band truly showcase their vocal abilities in their ballads and its numbers like Hold My Heart, built around a simple piano structure and some impressive key changes, that showcases each member’s  effortless and seasoned vocals. A solid, atmospheric and gorgeously sombre stunner!

The band have a reputation for releasing unashamed pop for 23 years and this collection gives further justification to a career that is closing in on quarter of a century long and still producing top grade hits for a fanbase that seriously cannot get enough and What The Future Holds is a perfect example of why! As someone who has been a fan since the bands first single I would go as far as saying this is the best record since that flawless 1997 debut! Steps – we tip our hat to you yet again!