Blue were not the average boy band. Yes there were four of them, standing there in a line, looking good and singing, note singing, not playing any musical instruments. But the foursome of Duncan James, Antony Costa, Simon Webbe, and Lee Ryan actually did appear to have talent. This is not to say that other boy bands didn't have that in abundance, but there was something about Blue's songs that marked them as different. For a start there was the production, which was slick and creamy smooth. Soulful in a way that harked back to the Temptations or the Four Tops, and they weren't boy bands were they? Secondly regarding soul, the vocals were sung as if there was some real feeling, and that maybe is what separated Blue from their peers. Having arrived seemingly from nowhere in the summer of 2001 with the hit "All Rise" that pop radio couldn't stop playing, and hitting number one with both the follow-ups "Too Close," which was a cover of the little heard (in the U.K.) track by Next and "If You Come Back." After three successful singles came the debut album All Rise, which hardly surprisingly entered the chart very high at number two. What was surprising was that after the fourth single, "Fly By" was released, the album went one place better and topped the chart six months after its initial release. The lads had street cred, too, and Webbe broke into the occasional rap on the tracks "Fly By" and "Back to You." "Bounce" does exactly what one would think it should, it bounces on the offbeat, and "Girl I'll Never Understand," "Back Someday," and "Best in Me," the three tracks that close the album, are slow R&B ballads, while it would have been nice to end on a high. However, for all the Westlife and Boyzone ballads and good looks since the late '90s, Blue may be not really that different from the American prototypes *NSync and Backstreet Boys after all: attitude yes, different yes, but something new, not really.
AllMusic Review by Sharon Mawer