It’s coming up to the Christmas period, so it may shock you to know that Michael Bublé has a new album out. That’s the news story of the f***ing week right there! Mike has returned and is ready to be recorded crooning some tunes for you to buy to gift unto your Grandmother on 25th December. So far, so predictable.
Now, I love a bit of ol’ Mickey Bubbles just as much as the next person, really I do. ‘Cry Me A River‘ is an absolute banger and frankly, his Christmas album could well be proof of the existence of an actual Santa, what with it being such a gift to the world. However, new album ‘Love‘ would have been far more appropriately named ‘Michael Properly Bloody Phoned This One In, Didn’t He?‘. A drab, lifeless collection of songs that are easy enough on the ear now, but will be forgotten about before the Boxing Day party hangovers kick in. Like a disappointing surf on a very small wave of mediocrity, all thirteen tracks (yes, we listened to the deluxe version and everything) seem to have nothing to say. Despite being a collection of love songs, there really is not a single drop of romantic charm to be found, instead replaced by what feels like a dry, borderline cynical wave of pleasant enough orchestral Pop fodder.
There really is very little to remark upon here, as it feels like the joyous energy that usually spills up and out of the great Canadian is just nowhere to be found, shrouded in a cloak of Easy Listening, ‘Jazzy‘ cannon fodder, lacking… Well… Pretty much anything that makes Michael Bublé so utterly charming to listen to, packed full of personality. Tracks like ‘I Only Have Eyes For You‘ and the painfully mediocre ‘Forever Now‘ come and go with absolutely no fanfare, which is a bloody achievement with the Big Band orchestration of the former. Like a piece of cress in a vindaloo, they exist, yet have absolutely no significant contribution to the overall listening experience.
A special mention has to go to the album’s absolute worst point, the butchering of the jazz standard, romantic classic that is ‘My Funny Valentine‘. A song that lives and dies by it’s subtlety and unassuming take on true love from the eyes of a singular person. Elvis Costello’s version, as an absolutely incredible example, is simply perfect and absolutely nails the song at it’s core. Sparse, soft and simply stunning, it is everything the lyrics call for. So it only goes to further beg the question as to why the hell whoever arranged the version on offer here decided that it would make a great Bond theme. A bombast of unpleasant orchestral power, topped off by a vocal that completely misses the point and seems to be more concerned with building up to yet another bloody loud crescendo (yes, we get it Michael, now could you just sing the song and stop showing off at how loudly you can sing it please? Same goes to you Adele! Pack this s**t in. Mo’ power does no equal mo’ quality to your vocal take!).
There’s a couple of pleasant enough duets and radio-friendly numbers on here, look no further than ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night‘ or ‘Where Or When‘ (which features more of the same f***ing shouting as mentioned before) for further examples, but other than a particularly bouncy rendition of ‘When You’re Smiling‘ (a personal favourite tune of mine) there is literally nothing here that encourages a second listen.
Hell, there’s nothing here that encourages you to finish a first listen if we’re being totally honest, which is all the more infuriating when you look over your shoulder at the back catalogue this great man carries in his wake.
Over-produced, over-polished and at time, frankly ridiculous, ‘Love’ strips back all the charm, personality and talent that made the world fall in love with Michael Bublé, choosing instead to bathe in a bath of cynical soullessness. Here’s hoping that whatever comes next is a damn sight better than this!