In 2010, Olly Murs did the unthinkable, and went from being runner-up on the sixth series of the U.K. X-Factor to legitimate recording artist and entertainment personality. The cheeky Essex lad found massive chart success with his eponymous debut album, breaking away from the show that first sparked his popularity. Murs' Everyman charm -- complete with boyish tunes and TopShop threads -- paved the way for other entertainment opportunities, including his stint as co-host on the popular Xtra Factor program. Still, Murs wasted no time trying to solidify himself as Britain's next male pop star, and the result is a follow-up album released exactly a year after its predecessor and which, amazingly, feels neither rushed nor fabricated. Quite the opposite. In Case You Didn't Know is a sunnier, smoother album than Murs' debut, mostly because it shifts the singer even farther away from the karaoke tunes that got him so far on the X-Factor back in 2009. Thanks to much more prevalent production and writing by Brit-pop mastermind Steve Robson (Take That, One Direction) and Claude Kelly (Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J), Murs' album is a bit more enticing and jovial: a British answer to Bruno Mars' "Doo-Wops and Hooligans" rather than a Will Young-style record. By the album's release, it had already had two massive singles -- the doo wop swooping "Dance with Me Tonight" and the bluesy synth track "Heart Skips a Beat," with Rizzle Kicks. Beyond those smashes, highlights of Murs' sophomore effort include "Oh My Goodness" and the breezy title track, both easily potential number ones. Tracks like "Tell the World" and "Just Smile" are tunes that basically beg for collaborations by a female counterpart to Murs -- Eliza Doolittle -- both artists shimmer in that quasi-ska-blues vibe. As for a flaw on this album, one might criticize the fact that nearly every track is just so bright, even when the lyrical content is not. In his defense, however, the one time he does attempt to turn on the proper waterworks with a ballad, "This Song Is About You," the results are so syrupy that he comes off as a second-rate Will Young, when in reality he has already almost bested Britain's original talent show winner. And, while a complete listen to this album in one shot sort of feels almost sickly sweet -- very few listeners from the digital generation will actually do so. Suffice to say, Murs is 2011's answer to Robbie Williams, and just like Williams' sophomore album I've Been Expecting You, In Case You Didn't Know is assuredly going to help Murs become one of Britain's finest national male pop stars for the next little while. Everything about this album has star written all over it.
AllMusic Review by Matthew Chisling