Westlife: Wild Dreams review – desperate energy of a divorced father | The music

FFrom Sex and the City and pop-punk to low-rise jeans and small bags, the revival of the early 2000s was broad and frenetic. It’s easier to list the turn-of-the-millennium culture that ironically hasn’t been reclaimed by Gen Z – and Irish Westlife crooners are among the last standing (or rather, perched uncomfortably on a tall stool).

Westlife: Wild Dreams

Not that the quartet, specializing in soppy pop sprinkled with R&B, is waiting idly to be rediscovered. Following their incredible success in the 2000s (17 consecutive top-five singles, including 14 No. 1s), the band broke up in 2012 and reformed in 2018. Their chart-topping comeback album, Spectrum , was inspired by the songwriting of young(ish) talents Ed Sheeran and James Bay. Wild Dreams reunites the band with Sheeran for the melodically enjoyable but lyrically dull My Hero, while Tom Grennan assists on the perfectly functioning Starlight.

These more traditional ballads are the highlights of the album: simple, unforced and a showcase for strong vocal performances. The rest is less pretty. There’s a lot of desperate, divorced-dad energy here, thanks to the kind of tricky, Bieber-esque production that saturated the charts in the mid-10s, as well as slightly gross lyrics. Alone Together turns a pandemic slogan into a grouchy chat line; the title track suggests a woman “crawling into my bed” before a chorus strongly reminiscent of DJ Khaled’s Wild Thoughts.

It’s hard to escape the feeling that Wild Dreams belongs to the past – and not, sadly, to the band’s Y2K heyday. Their cheesy early hits may be ripe for a revival, but Westlife 2.0 isn’t cool at all.