A comeback is never easy, and to release a second album since said comeback is massively impressive. Rick Astley has come a long way since his 1987 classic ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, as new release ‘Beautiful Life’ goes to show.
Opening with the title track, the album tries to set the bar high from the first notes. Astley’s soul-inspired vocals are injected with just the right amount of 80s vibes for 2018. However, as much as it is the title track, it fails to pop in the way you would expect. Slightly disappointingly, the song is very listenable but is definitely missing a little something.
This all changes with ‘Chance To Dance’, which has what was missing from the opening number. The added oomph from the production elevates it from being a flat filler to an album highlight. Whether you’re an old or new fan, this track will have you “waiting for the chance to dance” to it.
Things start to get a bit soppy with ‘She Makes Me’ and ‘Last Night On Earth’. The former has undertones of Bryan Adams and Meat Loaf, which sounds a bit strange but you’ll hear it. The latter has a beat that will undoubtedly get stuck in your head and lyrics that will grow on you over time. Almost divided into two parts, the song boasts creativity without losing its appeal.
The halfway point of an album usually gets a bit stuck, and ‘Beautiful Life’ is no exception. ‘Every Corner’ is the type of song that you’d imagine to be amongst other middle-of-the-road chart positions on a loop CD in a department store. Its safe vocals and predictability scream creative block, and you wouldn’t miss if you never heard it again.
The next few song’s worth of dullness is suddenly forgotten with ‘Try’. Featuring Astley’s greatest vocals on the record, it is a personal encouragement to keep going even if hopes and dreams feel lost.
It’s hard to listen to a former 80s/90s star without nostalgia, and this comes to a head in closing song ‘The Good Old Days’. The track is a childhood-fuelled trip down music memory lane that encapsulates the sounds that set Astley’s artistic wheels in motion. A pleasant and insightful end to the record.
Like I said at the beginning, Rick Astley has come a long way. He’s older now, as are his original fans, and ‘Beautiful Life’ mirrors this. It is a safe album that dazzles here and there, and uses the inevitable nostalgia as its driving force. His musical talent is shining through, but the flair has been toned down a little.