You Stood Up

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There's something resolutely old-fashioned about V. Whereas Westlife continue to inflict their Daniel O'Donnell-style housewife favorites on the charts and McFly and Busted peddle sub-blink-182 power pop, V hark back to the innocent days where boy bands were unashamedly pop. Debut album You Stood Up features no Barry Manilow covers and no lame attempts to embrace the Kerrang crowd, and is certainly all the better for it. Notable for being the first boy band that Girls Aloud and Sugababes supremo Brian Higgins has worked with, it's not surprising that his three contributions are the strongest songs on here. "Angel" and "Fools" are his trademark effortless electro-tinged pop but best of all is "Hip to Hip," a joyous summer anthem in the making, featuring nonsensical lyrics and a comical rap which stays just on the right side of novelty. You Stood Up doesn't reach the same giddy heights again, but still towers above anything their contemporaries have done lately. The anthemic title track, a ballad featuring the obligatory gospel choir, manages to be uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time; "Can You Feel It," a cover of the Jacksons' classic, manages to avoid the karaoke treatment other boy bands would have lazily used, and "Walk On" and "First Time" are the kind of funky R&B-infused pop Five used to pull off so well. Occasionally, they veer into the dreaded "we're serious musicians" territory. The acoustic "Breakaway" is the kind of aimless singer/songwriter track you'd hear at any pub open mic night and the corny "Chills in the Evening," a collaboration with labelmates McFly, sails a little too close to the over-produced '80s power ballad genre. And if a band could sue themselves for plagiarism, they'd have a pretty good case with "Earth, Wind and Fire," an almost identical retread of their rather plodding debut single, "Blood, Sweat and Tears." But overall, this is a refreshing and unpretentious debut. Whether there's any public desire for a traditional boy band remains to be seen, but by putting the fun back into pop music, You Stood Up certainly gives them a chance.

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