Second albums are always the hardest to release. They follow the expectations, pressures and standards set by the first album, but are usually not accompanied by the ease and knowledge of previous success enhanced by the third.
So McFly are at a crucial point in their career, either emphasising reasons to support their extremely large fanbase or opening the door and escorting their fans out of Camp McFly. After selling out Wembley Stadium sized venues across the UK on the back of their 2004 release Room On The Third Floor, it was inevitable that their second effort would be compared and contrasted with their debut.
For instance, the name Room On The Third Floor appears to be aimed at a more mature audience than that of Wonderland and perhaps is reflective of its content. Are McFly just a one trick pony at a children’s party or is there more depth to them than their typical fan, and album name choices, suggests?
Opener I’ll Be Ok is an upbeat number and a great way to start the album. In hope that McFly will go on as they begin, the second track I’ve Got You is sadly disappointing. One of the weaker songs on the album, it is – to put it lightly – bland, and lyrics like “I’ve got you to make me feel stronger/when the hours feel longer”, remind me that my day has just gone that little bit slower.
Influences from �60s Mod Brit bands like The Who can be detected on The Ballad Of Paul K, mainly lyrically – “He’s gone into a mid life crisis, he can’t afford the prices” are similar to the bizarre quality of Suggs from Madness. Of course there’s the Beach Boys influence demonstrated in Ultraviolet and I Wanna Hold You and there’s no sign of McFly drifting away from the decade that they never lived in.
The highlight of the album is Too Close for Comfort. Musically it’s one of the stronger tracks with catchy melodies and potential for release. Lyrics like “I don’t know why you’re leaving me but you must have your reasons”, “remember when we scratched our names into the sand and you told me you love me” and “you won’t understand how much it hurts to let you go” are prime examples of McFly moving away from their previous wanderings such as “She’s got a lip ring and five colours in her hair” to ones of, dare I say it, more substance.
Too Close for Comfort also shows Danny Jones (Paul Weller style hair, Paul Weller style dress sense…I won’t say he’s just like Paul Weller for fear of being shot) as being the star of the band vocally and musically as well.
Comic Relief single All About You acts as a turning point in the album as orchestras are heavily introduced into the equation. She Falls Asleep is the least predictable section of the album and is split into two parts; the first segment (funnily enough titled She Falls Asleep: Part One) is a just under two minute long orchestral instrumental which provides nice and somewhat relaxing listening. How different from Busted‘s “We’re more rock than you” persona – it illustrates McFly’s knowledge of their alliance with the world of pop.
She Falls Asleep – Part Two is just like something lifted from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, with Tom Fletcher’s (the blonde one that is, weirdly enough, the most unpopular amongst fans) vocals floating over the top. She Falls Asleep plays a vital role in keying out differences in the album and succeeds.
Closer Memory Lane boasts a minute or so long harmonious build up of the words, “So much has changed”. Whether they’re commenting on their status in the world of pop, their self-believed musical progression or the fact that they’ve finally hit puberty, McFly in some ways are extremely right. Although this album is nothing drastically different from the McFly many love/hate/loathe (delete where applicable), there is proof that the band have matured – lyrically and musically, both deeper than before.
Wonderland is a commendable second album for McFly and although in parts cringing, in others is pretty damn good.