As boybands go, Westlife can’t complain. The shelf life of the pop factory four or five piece tends to peak at five years, so with eleven years already under their belt Westlife are doing well. Formed by Louis Walsh to follow-up Boyzone, the former five piece may have battled on without Brian McFadden since 2004, but they have finally decided it is time to leave behind the key changing stand up off the pedestal moments behind them. Now technically a man-band, Westlife have tried redefining themselves with the statemented album titling Where We Are.
Lead single “What About Now”, a cover version of former American Idol contestant Daughtry’s massive hit Stateside, benefited from mass exposure throughout the audition stage of this year’s 2009. A heartfelt ballad which soar the quartet saw close to the top of the charts. Rousingly anthemic it sets a promising tone for an album which features songwriting contributions from Ryan Tedder, Steve Robson and Steve Booker. Former All Saints singer Shaznay Lewis shares writing credits with Westlife member Mark Feehily on “Reach Out”, whilst Backstreet Boy A.J. Mclean hooked up with Ryan Tedder to contribute “Shadows”.
Westlife aren’t all that far from where they were.
With such a diversification of musical contributors, it is a surprise to hear that the Westlife sound has not altered much from the formulaic earlier output. Vocals are more evenly distributed and there are attempts at the more mature market. “Shadows” with its military drumming backdrop adds an interesting to the structured ballad. Though not strictly new territory, it is a memorable contribution. The whirling setting of title track “Where We Are” carries promise and almost delivers Westlife to their goal destination. When Mark Feehily takes the lead of “Another World”, we finally get to see a mature Westlife. The emotional delivery carries Westlife into adulthood.
In other areas, Westlife fail to illuminate. Dull ballads including “Talk Me Down” and “Sound Of A Broken Heart” will please their dedicated followers but are forgotten before they even start.
Westlife benefit from a loyal fanbase. Mark Feehily’s vocal stands out on the more mature offerings on Where We Are. The major contention with the album though, is that really Westlife aren’t all that far from where they were.