ITNO, Columbia Records | 2016
Tom Odell’s sophomore album, Wrong Crowd, had big shoes to fill coming off the back of his previous successes; such as his debut album Long Way Down and his Beatles cover of ‘Real Love’ topping the charts in the UK after being synced with a Christmas advert.
Expectations were high for this record, I remember seeing Tom receive a BRIT award prior to the release of his debut album, a rare achievement, especially for an artist solely relying on piano and his voice. ‘Another Love’ was absolutely huge, was incredible seeing him go on to bigger things, a world tour and sound tracking Burberry’s SS13 campaign – what an honour.
Instantly I sense a slight change of style, the opening title track boasts an array of layers, not just the atmospheric piano tones we’re used to, it sounds somewhat beat-heavy and copious synth. It seems as though he’s branched out, experimented and tested the limits of his audience with new techniques, the majority of which are fantastic.
He remains his authentic self, paying tribute to his influences with his piano thumping ballads ‘Concrete’ and ‘Magnetised’, continuing to bridge the gap between Elton John and Chris Martin of Coldplay. Because of this he has obtained a nice balance between being able to perform all songs acoustically or stripped back as well as dynamically at festivals to huge audiences. No wrong crowd here, Tom.
‘Silhouette’, however is not my favourite. I actually really love the album except for this one song. It’s the ultimate juxtaposition, classical strings meet a non linear abrupt drum beat, to me it lacks dissonance, ultimately it’s just too busy, I’m sure he had the best intensions, but they just didn’t translate.
Proceeding ‘Silhouette’, we have the best track on the album (in my humble opinion) – ‘Jealously’. It’s raw and stripped back, maybe it’s just my taste, but this song backtracks hard. It’s at the tipping point, abundant with, heartbreak, nostalgia and charm. Hearing this after the previous track left me longing for the 2013 Tom.
The deluxe version of Wrong Crowd also features a few extra tracks! ‘Entertainment’ is a favourite. ‘I Thought I Knew What Love Was’ is probably the most ambitious of his tracks that I like, it’s balanced, not too new, not too old.
Overall I applaud Tom for coming out with new and original material and creating a newish sound. I think this album show’s how much he’s developed as an artist, but I think like most new albums his existing audience will be resistant at first because of our high expectations and being hesitant to the change. I think I’d put myself in that basket. Wonderful album from a wonderful, soulful young artist. I was not disappointed.