Album Reviews

Matt Willis – Don’t Let It Go To Waste

(Mercury) UK release date: 20 November 2006

The former Busted boy comes good with an album full of soft rock gems that show a maturity and confidence that looks set to take him far.

Time for a confession here. This has been a slow music week. Not much is being released so that bands who care about that sort of thing can hold out until a bit closer to Christmas and use the present-buying masses to drag their wares a little further up the charts.

So in a beligerent, defender of the indie flame mood, I decide that for a laugh I’ll take the new Matt Willis album and give the abandoned little boy band munchkin a kicking. It’ll keep me off the streets until the next time a new boxed set of unreleased Nirvana demos appears and it’ll stop me having to watch him stuff his face with maggots as he clutches at reality TV to keep his career afloat.

I don’t even plan to give it the full attention I’d usually afford review copies. Instead, I stick it on in the background while I’m emailing some mates about Christmas booze-ups. I even use the emails to give it a little kick in the balls, trying to guilt friends into coming out by pointing out that if they don’t, I’ll have to stay in and listen to Matt Willis instead. I laugh. I sneer. But then I notice that actually, I’m tapping my foot. Then I stop emailing and I start to listen. Really listen. And you know what?

Matt Willis’s new album is really good. Really, really good. And not even in a poptastic boy band way. Good in a quite grown-up, rockier than Radio 2 and Heart FM kind of way. His voice has a gravelly quality that defies his age, and while songs such as Ex Girlfriend and Get Bored are (it’s okay, you can say it amongst friends) emo, it’s the punky, fun emo of Avril Lavigne and Good Charlotte. It owes a good debt to Nirvana and the poppier end of grunge. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. At all.

Ballads such as the title track Don’t Let It Go To Waste and the gloriously 50s-inlfuenced From Myself Baby demonstrate that not only does Willis have a pretty interesting voice, he’s actually a decent songwriter as well.

There are some great tracks here, some immediately catch songs with some really great hooks, with Fade Out, Luxury and the furious energy of the Billboard-seducing Sound of America deserving a special mention. Smashing Kelly is frankly brilliant.

All of this is very disturbing, because surely the dog ends of Busted that Charlie has flung aside shouldn’t be turning out really, really good records? Surely they should be disappearing quietly into more and more ill-advised sugary ballards until we never have to see them again? It doesn’t make sense but then, back in the day, who ever thought that Robbie Williams would turn out to be the most talented member of Take That? Go Matt – I’m sorry I doubted you.

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Matt Willis – Don’t Let It Go To Waste