Recreating the same feverish oh-shit-this-is-actually-happening excitement of 2017’s Tears On The Dancefloor campaign was always going to be tough, but Steps have finally dropped What The Future Holds, their sixth studio album (yes, sixth – it seems Light Up The World is canon!) – and the good news is that the reviews are mostly glowing.
The 12-track collection (13 if you include an alternate version of the title song, armed with a bonus Faye verse) is competing with Gary Barlow and Miley Cyrus for chart dominance over the next week, but regardless of where it ranks next Friday, it’s got most critics on side. All scored critiques come in at three-stars (or 6/10) or above.
The Independent, for a start, award that exact rating; saying: “…For an album that claims to be thinking about the future, the sound is overwhelmingly retro”. They reason that “sometimes the sheer relentlessness of the album’s go-to animated tempo can begin to grate” but “in a year dominated by doom-and-gloom headlines, Steps feel like just what the doctor ordered”.
Similarly, iNews award 3/5, saying: “It’s all irresistibly fun and hugely camp – the kind of songs you might find yourself losing your mind to at a wedding reception but later insist you’ve never even heard before.”
Clash Music award a 6/10 score, saying: “No, it’s not original; yes, it’s deeply shallow – but for pop fans, those are kind of the enduring elements of their appeal, with its teeth-squeaking plasticity allowing the group to retain a cartoonish universe of their own.”
They add: “There are times on the thumpingly fun chorus of Heartbreak In The City where the metaphorical curtain is pulled back to reveal something new and fresh, a definite embrace of modern pop sensibilities, and we are reminded that whilst the group may have a staple sound, they are more than willing to adapt to current trends, and more so, to take advantage sonically and technologically of what is available to further their creative and artistic horizons.”
Finally, top marks are given by Entertainment Focus, who go the whole hog and award five stars – saying this “is the pop record that we need in 2020.”
“It’s bold, it’s catchy, it’s fun and it’s the best damn pop album released this year (yes, it is better than Kylie’s DISCO in my opinion),” they add.
The album’s out now.