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Album Review: Will Young – 85% Proof

2 min read

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.