With one single to his name, namely the title track of this album, Daniel Bedingfield is already being referred to as a “UK Garage star”. The self-produced (in his bedroom) song was of course a huge club and chart hit, but if his newly recruited fanbase was expecting more of the same, this album will come as something of a shock. For while his undoubted talent shines sporadically throughout the record, Bedingfield too often comes across less as the Next Big Thing In UK Garage than as a one-man Michael Jackson tribute band.
Take as the starting point the second single, James Dean (I Wanna Know). The boy’s vocals veer from sounding like someone vomiting to someone fallen ill through being genetically fused with Cher‘s vocoder. And they go on in the same vein throughout the record. He can hold a note, especially when he restrains his vocal output, but it becomes progressively more and more difficult to care one way or the other.
As for the music, there’s the oh-so-Urban use of a car alarm as a sound effect in Right Girl, a Jacko pastiche of high tempo beats and slapped-together sounds. But Jacko, regrettably, also pens the odd ballad from time to time, and Mr Bedingfield is not to be outdone. If You’re Not The One is as vomit-inducing as anything the man in the plastic mask has ever wretched forth at the world. And he only exacerbates the nausea with Without The Girl, an advert for a duetting soprano if ever there was one.
Where Bedingfield is at his best, bizarrely, is in the singer-songwriter type songs, like He Doesn’t Love You, I Can’t Read You and an eye-opening acoustic guitar version of Gotta Get Thru This. On these, Bedingfield’s natural and considerable talent for throwing together a song come to the fore, and they sound as fresh as the original version of Gotta Get Thru This.
Elsewhere, Friday is something of a stomp, with all the energy of his first single and bags more to spare, and his use of Duanne Eddy‘s Peter Gunn in the aptly titled Inflate My Ego is little short of genius. But Girlfriend is as close as you get to hearing Peter Cetera produced sans reverb by Nigel Godrich. Get clapping, now.
So the end result is something of a bitty affair. It mixes and matches – a little like a Primark clothes rail. On an album entirely written and co-produced by Bedingfield, there are moments of fresh-sounding talent – and there are ill-advised attempts at sounding like Jacko’s bag carrier. It’s just possible that this latter group of songs are the kind he plans to write for the eminently punchable H and Claire, so maybe there’s a motive after all.