Tom Odell, who has become a familiar voice on the radio in the three years following the release of his extremely successful debut album Long Way Down, is back with a second album; Wrong Crowd. Released on 10th June, Wrong Crowd is recognisably Odell, retaining the acoustic nature of the first album with tracks like Constellations, while demonstrating how he has developed as an artist. This album has a real mixture of styles, with poppy songs like Here I Am¸ to jazz inspired tracks like Jealousy. This variation shows how it is ultimately a more ambitious album than Long Way Down, although in a very different way.
The album opens with Wrong Crowd, the first single which was released, which shows a very different side to Odell as an artist than Long Way Down. Much darker in style, experimenting with heavier drums and electronic sounds, Wrong Crowd is a catchy and memorable song, which grows on you the more you listen. Magnetised, which is potentially the best track on the album, sings about the failure of a relationship, making it relatable to listeners – which is one of the things Tom Odell does most successfully. Like Wrong Crowd, Magnetised is incredibly catchy, but the underlying melodies show off Odell’s artistry, with subtle piano melodies contrasting with the main tune, making it a far more complex song than it first appears. While the first couple of songs were fairly heavy, Concrete follows Magnetised, providing a break from this and is a much more poppy song in general. While it is enjoyable to listen to, and shows off Odell’s piano skills, it does not hold the same power as the opening two songs. However, it is followed by Constellations, which is an outstandingly beautiful song which shows off Odell’s vocals, ranging from the sheer power of his voice to his beautifully soft falsetto.
After Constellations, the album takes another turn with Sparrow, which is unlike anything I’ve heard from Odell before. With hints of blues in this song, it is wonderfully creepy and ethereal, displaying the sheer range of Odell’s capabilities, and is something I’d like to see more of in the future. Following Sparrow is, in my opinion, the two weakest songs on the album; Still Getting Used to Being On My Own and Silhouette. While both are very catchy songs, with Still Getting Used to Being On My Own having just the right amount of angstiness, they are slightly more generic than the rest of the album, ultimately weakening them compared to the others. However, they are followed by what I would argue are two of the strongest tracks on the album, Jealousy and Daddy. Jealousy displays Odell’s vocals range, showing the influences of jazz on the album and demonstrating his skill at this type of music as well. Another relatable song, it has blues-like melodies on the piano with incredibly strong vocals over the top and in the longer notes the emotion in the song is clearly evident. This jazzy track is followed by the heaviest song on the album Daddy (although Odell has commented that it is a song he loves to play acoustically) which also shows his immense vocal range, and indeed the song feels like a more controlled version of Jeff Buckley’s Grace with the heavy guitars and strong vocals.
Daddy is followed by Here I Am, which has a jazzy piano melody running throughout, and is a good choice to follow Daddy to provide some relief for the listeners, but it fails to live up to the outstanding nature of Daddy and Jealousy, and although it is a nice poppy song, it is not as strong as others. The album closes on Somehow, which is a song with a huge amount of emotion and builds up beautifully. Odell again shows off his outstanding falsetto, while the use of strings at the build-up of the song is sublime and provides an emotional end to the album.
Wrong Crowd is one of the most varied and ambitious albums I have listened to this year, and indeed one of the most enjoyable. It is easy to tell the amount of work that has been put into it – and as Odell wrote over 150 songs for the album, it is obvious he only picked the very best. From jazz, to pop, to rock, this album covers a variety of styles without feeling too diverse and each song feels like it belongs. It is an album I would 100% recommend and I eagerly anticipate Tom Odell’s third album! Listen to the single Magnetised below!