My music consumption these days comes via a Spotify subscription which gives me access to millions of alumbs & songs for a relatively small price. Fans purchasing these albums as physical releases on the other hand are having to pay the full whack, and I'm sorry, but there's no value for money here.
When Artists announce an album realease it usually comes in two forms - Standard & Deluxe. Paying an extra fiver for 5+ original songs is worth it. 3 new songs, remixes and a Christmas song isn't. Of the new offerings, 'September Sun' is the only stand-out. It's extremely similiar in sound to 'Paradise Lost', which interestingly enough has never been sung live by Steps. I don't buy the hype that it's a magnificent song, but I think it's a better live offering than the likes of 'It's The Way You Make Me Feel'.
'Beautiful Battlefield' from the title should've been an epic number, akin possible to Jordin Sparks 'Battlefield'. What we actually get is a ballad which goes absolutely nowhere. 'Fool For You' joins 'It's The Way You Make Me Feel' in being one of the worst songs Steps have ever done. Again, it feels as though the song wants to go somewhere but it holds back. It's extremely dissapointing & tends to sum up my overall feelings of Steps comeback.
The stand-out songs fromn the 20 year celebration have to be opener 'Scared of the Dark', 'Happy' & their cover of 'I Will Love Again' is a favourite of CONTROLRadioUK HQ.
I've been a fan of Steps since I was a child. Given how much I have written about them here, it's probably a little strange I've barely acknowledged their comeback. It's supposed to be a time of celebration! After all it's brand new Steps music! Something that was in doubt for a while. Again as I've mentioned countless times, Steps used to work so well when Claire was on lead. She's got a magnificent voice & fantastic stage presence. Even now, when you go onto Youtube comments, discussion forums etc, you will see people for better or worse comment on how she carries the band.
That's not to say the other members aren't good. Lee, Faye & H are great singers in their own right, but they don't carry songs the way Claire does, and when the new music hands out parts in a more equal fashion? It's a bit of a mess.
Thankfully 'You Make Me Whole' wasn't chosen as a single. Chorus aside it's terrible. The music doesn't fit Steps, the lyrics are generic & fitting Lee & H's backing vocals onto the verses between Claire & Lisa singing feels tacked on. As soon as I heard the teaser for 'Neon Blue' I knew it would be chosen as the 3rd single. It's an OK enough song & the video certainly had more budget than 'Scared of the Dark', but that chorus should be an absolute banger. Whilst Lisa was in the past a great dancer, she's extremely weak vocally and with her leading the chorus, instead of the music going up into Euphoria, it has to be weakened so you can make out her whisper.
'Glitter & Gold' is an OK song but that's literally it. There's nothing about it to stand out and it sounds like every other song you've heard. 'Space Between Us' is a surprisingly good album track I still occasionally listen to. 'Firefly' led by Faye and Lisa, had potential to be fantastic. The dip leading to the chorus promises so much and I was waiting for that bang to come and blow me away. That never happened. 'Story of a Heart' is absolutely fantastic and one of the best covers Steps have ever done.
Not surpising since Claire and Faye led songs are my second favourite duo.
Unfortunately I can't review the album and not mention 'Dancing with a Broken Heart'. It's absolutely horrific. Some may call listening to the original Delta Goodrem version ahead of the Radio 2 premiere a mistake, given the fact I fell head first for it & in comparison? Steps version is flat. Sometimes songs are just meant to be sung by a solo Artist compared to a band, and this is one of them. Delta's original was released in 2012 which was only 5 years ago, and the sound is still extremely current for where music is at now.
There was absolutely no need to mix up the production in an attempt to sound fresh. It already is and ironically enough, the mixing results in an extremely dated sound that no-one can save. The music video is supposed to be the sequel to 'Deeper Shade of Blue', which feels like an insult. The music video is extremely busy, and considering Steps are known for their dance routines?
Leaving that duty solely to the backing dancers is lazy.
The 20 year celebration has been extended through to next year with summer shows. Again, I wish I could be happy & join the masses in snapping up tickets but from the BBC Proms & various performances Steps have done so far? Hearing Lisa Scott Lee's struggle vocals isn't something anyone should be put through. The one saving grace she used to have was her dancing ability.
Even that is now extinct, with all her energy and focus dedicated to staring at the camera almost as though she's afraid it will run away from her.
Album Score: 5/10