We’ll be honest, readers: Cheryl has never been very good at the whole ‘abum’ thing. Singles, definitely. Every lead single from a Chezza campaign – ‘Fight For This Love’, ‘Promise This’, ‘Call My Name’ – is an epic pop juggernaut stuffed with catchy hooks and sing-a-long choruses. There’s a reason why she has four number one hits to her name. However when it comes to a ‘full body of work’ (music fancy talk for ‘good album’), it’s all a bit… forgettable. Can she turn it around with her latest release ‘Only Human’? Well, it turns out she can actually…
Mrs. Fernandez-Versini’s fourth LP is, surprisingly enough, a pretty solid collection of well produced pop bangers and thoughtful, memorable mid tempo ballads. We kick things off with Intro which features an extract from a speech by British / American philosopher Alan Watt (SOUND THE INTELLECTUAL KLAXON), before segueing into the pulsating, spoken word Live Life Now which asks the question “If money was no object, what do you desire?”. It sets the tone for an album about chasing after what you want in both life and love, all whilst giving absolutely zero fudges. Obviously.
Of course Cheryl hasn’t let this new found Serious Face philosophy get in the way of throwing out a handful of her most pop-tastic moments to date. The horn heavy Crazy Stupid Love is still a twerk inspiring triumph and current single I Don’t Care is as infectious as ever with its mildly cheesy synth riffs and fist pumping chorus.
We’ll admit there are probably a few too many slow numbers on offer here but a handful of them are well worth your listening time. Title track Only Human is a sweeping, electronic ballad with vocoder-ed vocals and a majestic chorus designed to send shivers down the spine. Basically it’s the epic, wintry ballad to end all epic, wintry ballads. The tribal-esque Fight On is also worth a spin and sounds like a lost track from ‘The Lion King’ soundtrack (in the best way possible!) but our fave of the bunch is the wistful, Nicola Roberts penned Goodbye Means Hello with its woozy verses and addictive ‘Coo coo coo coo coo’ chants. The whole thing is subtle but very, very catchy indeed.
Other highlights include the bouncy, disco tinged empowerment anthem It’s About Time and our new favourite workout song Stars, which finds the ‘Call My Name’ singer dropping the ‘F’ bomb yet AGAIN. Ooh er. Up and coming R&B star Joel Compass also pops up on the super sexy duet Coming Up For Air, showing Cheryl can rock the slow jams as well as high energy dance pop.
Overall we reckon Chezza has stepped up her game big time for album number four. It’s not entirely perfect from start to finish but there’s a lot to love here and its the first Cheryl LP that feels like it has a message behind it. Clearly the X Factor judge and part time hair model has a very enviable, glamourous life, but she’s also had her fair share of disappointments like the rest of us and a lot of the stellar tune-age on offer here reflects that. However, the former Girls Aloud star doesn’t wallow in self pity but merely decides that the key to a moving forward is grabbing life by the horns, dispensing of all fooks and – most importantly – just having a big old dance to a fabulous song. And really, who could argue with that?
MP! Rating: 3/5