Girl group Wonderland are set to explode onto the scene all over again with their self-titled debut. Including the debut hit ‘Not A Love Song’ and the upcoming follow-up ‘Starlight’, the album is wonderfully produced and proves that Wonderland will be giving The Saturdays a run for their money this year.
The girls have already toured with Boyzone and Westlife, and are about to hit the road with former X-Factor star Olly Murs.
This album is just the archetypal girl band album, but done beautifully. The songs are well-written, with great instrumentation that doesn’t feel too clichéd or forced.
Where Wonderland excels as an album and a band, however, is the vocals of the members themselves. The harmonies are well done and all the girls show an impressive range, working well together to create a more soulful sound that most girl bands around currently.
Whilst any band of this kind will be lapped up by the mainstream media and shunned by so-called “critics”, Wonderland deserve more attention. The backing is live and vibrant, a step above the souless over-production that harms a lot of contemporary pop music.
That’s not to say the music here is particularly groundbreaking, and in fairness it can be quite predictable. However, the collaboration of songwriters, talented session musicians and the vocals of the band members themselves make for a an album that will certainly make its mark on the charts.
Some songs, like ‘Need You Now’ show more depth and maturity that most girl bands would do, with lyrics that don’t seem geared to pre-teen girls. The line “It’s quarter after one, I’m a little drunk and I need you now” isn’t particularly thought-provoking, but it’s an unexpected sentiment for a usually polished and perfect genre of music with a very specific market.
‘Need You Now’ is actually a cover of a Lady Antebellum song, although Wonderland more than do it justice here, and credit has to go to whoever chose this song.
This is actually a band more reminiscent of Atomic Kitten and bands like The Corrs than a continuation of the more dance-influenced acts like The Saturdays or Girls Aloud. This does make for a more interesting album, although it begins to drag at times.
As much as this is a bold album, a girl group with real depth, it can suffer from being a formulaic at times, with the album almost entirely made up of ballads. Strong, soulful ballads, but constant ballads nonetheless.
Wonderland is still a good album to listen through to the end, with later tracks like ‘Time Has Run Out’ once again showing an impressive vocal range and some nice, subtle harmonies.
As if to prove this reviewer wrong, ‘Emergency’ is a great change of pace instrumentally, again carried by the vocal talent on show from Wonderland.
The change in tempo actually gives the album new life for the last stretch, with the ballads seeming more powerful and exciting somehow. It might be that the final tracks do mix it up a bit, with a more bluesy/country-influenced ‘Get Your Boots On’ adding a bit of depth to what was becoming a repetitive record.
Wonderland ends very strongly with an acoustic cover of Adele’s ‘Rolling In the Deep’, a bonus track that brings the album to a very satisfying conclusion. Covering such a contemporary song is ambitious, and stripping it down this bare is an even bolder move but it works perfectly, really showing how good these girls are at stunning vocals.
This album will surely see Wonderland’s star continue to rise, proving them to be a step above the cookie-cutter pop bands dominating the charts.
You can buy a copy of Wonderland's new album signed by the band right now on www.qvcuk.com, QVC can be viewed on Freeview channel 16, Sky digital channel 640, Virgin TV channel 740 or Freesat channel 800.
Female First - Alistair McGeorge