There’s no denying that Olly Murs has the talent and charisma to make it really far in this industry. He’s drawn comparisons to heavyweights Robbie Williams and Justin Timberlake and after seeing him live in 2013 I can back those claims up. I really wanted to like his fourth studio album but nothing could save this manufactured mess. “Never Been Better” sees Olly Murs lose his personality and honesty amongst over produced beats and formalized lyrics. The over emotional and generic ballad “Beautiful To Me” shows a non genuine side to the singer with a sense of resentment shining through his vocal delivery. It’s as if he doesn’t believe in what he’s singing and doesn’t give it his all. This continues to happen on the generic “Nothing Without You” and pure dud “Tomorrow”. Leaving the ballads alone he tries to create upbeat anthems but fails miserable. He continues to disappoint with “Never Been Better” (too try hard), “Why Do I Love You” (plain boring), “Stick With Me” (sounds like a song Avici turned down) and “Can’t Say No” (just needs to be skipped). “Seasons” grows on you after a few listens and is one of the stronger B-side pop tracks.
While the majority of the album is disappointing there are a couple that impress and ignite that spark that’s missing. “Did You Miss Me” is one of the stronger songs on the album and delivers a powerful and cheeky brass band fueled chorus that’s reminiscent of Justin Timberlake’s recent material. Lead single “Wrapped Up” (Feat. Travie McCoy) follows in its lead but isn’t as memorable as previous singles and sounds like a B-side Bruno Mars track. Demi Lovato comes to rescue the day with the impressive folk inspired duet “Up”. Vocally Murs and Lovato combine strengths perfectly and create a powerful and genuine moment that makes it worth a listen. He further redeems himself on the rock influenced “Hope You Got What You Came For” which will ignite his live shows with raw passion. Concluding the album with the Paul Weller penned “Let Me In” it’s the first time we have actually heard a genuine vulnerability. The beautiful piano, guitar and strings ballad is in typical Weller fashion but translates incredibly well to Murs and is an instant album favourite.
“Never Been Better” lacks originality with very few strengths to serve this album justice. Murs seems uninspired, bored and not the charismatic pop star the world has fell accustomed to. His cheeky side was lacking when it needed it most and his vulnerable side was sidelined for generic ballads that lack truth and honesty. It’s back to the drawing board for Olly Murs and his team and hopefully they return with something stronger.