Just over two years ago in 2019, when we wrote our 10th anniversary blog for the release of their debut album, we confidently predicted (or at least hoped) that JLS would both get back together and return to the UK and Ireland’s arenas in December 2020 to tour and mark the occasion properly.
Whilst the obvious events of the last 18 months saw to it that that happened later than planned (the mammoth sold out 30 date jaunt finally finished up just over a week ago), the delays bought on by the pandemic did at least afford the spark to be properly lit on what we dare say their fans the land over (myself included) were hoping for; chiefly, some brand new music from the boys.
And so it is that this week, nearly two years on from that initial reunion announcement, we have the end result of their first full new studio album since 2012’s Evolution. Now here’s the thing; when any band reactivates after a long period apart, there is the temptation to judge what new material they bring us against the yardstick set by their earlier successes.
When you listen to the opening track on 2.0 and first single from September, “Eternal Love”, such doubts of it measuring up to their classics are swiftly eradicated. In terms of a comeback single, the Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac co-written sweet boy jam not only manages to self reference (in particular, Aston Merrygold’s line of “Life can never be tough if we stay stuck / If we stay together till forever and a day love”) but, as its warm reception at radio has proved, delivers everything required of it and more.
But here’s another thing; you start listening to the album, and it hits you that it’s only just scratching the surface on their best songs yet which are lying in wait on here. Current single “Postcard” is, according to several press junkets, the band’s collective favourite on the album. Produced by Lostboy (Sigala, Tom Grennan, Anne-Marie), it is a an instantly likeable part acoustic R&B kiss off to an ex-girlfriend (“I wouldn’t wait up for a late night call / You ain’t gonna hear from me at all / We could be one hundred miles apart / And I ain’t even gonna write you a postcard”).
Equally strong is “Changed”, a brooding, emotional, 2-step styled midtempo produced by Jake Tench aka THRDL!FE (Jess Glynne), and “Day One”, a delightfully catchy cut of disco funk that lyrically, is a love letter to the fans that have stuck with them from the start (“Cause you’re my day one / My ride or die / From day one / You’ve been by my side”).
Similarly, there are dancier moments also on “Feel Your Love”, a straight up banger first demoed over a decade ago for their second album, co-written by Lemar and produced by none other than Benny Benassi, and “Tango”, which proudly continues the tradition of great pop songs named after the ballroom dance following Shakira’s “Objection (Tango)”.
But by far the crowning glory of this album is its closing track; “Glow” is an Oritsé Williams led, soulful gospel backed number that again, pays tribute to the ones that have got your back through all the tough times. You listen to it and you can’t help but feel instantly uplifted, and all of the band sound at their most vocally strong on what should, by all rights be a future single.
Much like ABBA’s excellent comeback album Voyage, JLS have returned by maintaining the core timeless elements of what has always made them such a winner; amazing vocals, tight knit harmonies, and the ability to produce a banger for the ages, whilst largely refusing to pander to what is on trend or what is flavour of the moment, and quite literally giving their audience everything they want and something fresh. As both the title of their album and where their future success lies, we can confirm: JLS 2.0 has landed.
STREAM THESE: “Postcard”, “Changed”, “Glow”, “Tango”, “Day One”
2.0 is available to stream and download now via BMG/SloJo Entertainment. Let us know your thoughts and if you agree with our review by commenting below or messaging us on our Instagram!