The group, formed and managed by Louis Walsh alongside Westlife’s Kian Egan, have spent longer perfecting their sound and style than most acts have deals for these days, (poor MiniViva, Girls Can’t Catch, Joe McElderry…). So the expected standard of their debut was always going to be high, especially with Louis and Kian’s track record in the business.
With the influx of girl groups in 2011 it’s easy to try and compare them to others, but Wonderland have their own sound, they’ve perfected the blend of pop and country, with an added splash of rock. And with their five different, but impressively strong voices combining as one, each bringing a different layer to the track, the result is an impressive debut album.
Whilst it is noticeable that the first half of the album contains the tracks that were first being performed a year ago, it is refreshing to see a label give an act time to find their feet, and not rush into releasing an album, that then gets padded out with mediocre covers and fillers, and hoping for the best.
Singles ‘Not A Love Song’ and ‘Starlight’ start the album off with a great upbeat, feel good vibe, guaranteed to get your foot tapping. These are swiftly followed by the next single, ballad ‘Nothing Moves Me Anymore’, which for some reason, since getting the acoustic version on the ‘Introduction To Wonderland EP’, I cannot help singing along to the harmonies, (I obviously think i’m the 6th Wondie ).
The brilliant Lady Antibellum cover ‘Need You Now’ is next, before one of my personal favourites, (for the time being anyway, it changes regularly), ‘In My Arms’, which for me sums Wonderland up perfectly. A fun, up tempo track, with a fabulous mix of great vocals, harmonies, some proper percussion, (no drum machines here thank you), piano and a generous amount of guitar.
To save me repeating myself for every track I talk about, the vocals on this album are phenomenal. The arrangements are spot on, the emotion comes across in the ballads perfectly, and you would never think that this was the first album released by the group.
‘Why Here Why Now’ is a brilliantly rocky ballad, (which I visualise being performed with air grabs galore), whilst ‘Time Has Run Out’ has a more smooth, country feel to it.
‘Emergency’ is a fun track co-written by Mark Owen no less, the chorus is fantastically catchy, and you do indeed get a sense of urgency from the chase-y percussion, (makes a good gym track).
‘Get Your Boots On’ is a hidden gem towards the end of the album, a brilliant chorus, amazingly infectious with a country twang, it begs you to sing along out of tune and dance like a maniac.
‘When The Stars Go Blue’ is a perfect close to the album, a more chilled, reflective track, and it can’t fail with it’s “blu-uuuuuuuu-ooooh” chorus, imagine it performed live with thousands of fans singing along badly out of tune, perfect.
Bonus track is the awesome acoustic cover of Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’ of which I am still in love with the breakdown, (hi-5 on that one Jodi), which once more outlines what fantastic voices these girls have.
After a year of blogging about Wonderland, seeing their documentary, following their bored car journeys on Twitter and tracking their progress on tours with Westlife, Boyzone and Olly Murs via YouTube, there was always the danger that the album wouldn’t live up to the hype in my head.
I can safely say it’s surpassed all expectations I had, as you all know I judge albums by how many tracks I can get in to an album before I have the urge to skip a track, and Wonderland passes that test with flying colours.
It is an amazing collection of songs, which has the perfect balance of light and shade between ballads and more upbeat tracks, and I am looking forward to FINALLY getting to see Wonderland perform live in person at their Jazz Cafe gig in a few weeks.