Full review: does the X Factor star come good on his debut album?
Michael Baggs
15:20 29th June 2012

Aiden Grimshaw, as perhaps you know, was once on X Factor. After two years of silence and going to the pub with Matt Cardle, he returned this year with debut single 'Is This Love', surprising listeners with his mature sound and drum'n'bass influences.

The 20-year-old singer is due to release his debut album 'Misty Eye' on 20 August 2012. We've heard it and decided to share our feelings on his first album below. Was it worth the wait or was 'Is This Love' nothing but a false promise? Read our track by track review to find out...

'Hold On': Familiar to anyone who has seen Grimshaw at his early live dates, 'Hold On' has been serving as the opener to his recent London shows - and opens proceedings here to epic effect. A ponderous, dramatic beginning to the record which lulls the listener into a false sense of mid-tempo averageness before exploding into a massive chorus. A showcase not only of the album's intentions, but Grimshaw's vocal talents.

'Is This Love': The hit that never was. Despite a massive fanbase and hugely positive critical praise, 'Is This Love' was only a minor success for Mr Grimshaw. This drum'n'bass influenced single will be familiar to many, and while still an impressive debut is in fact hugely overshadowed by vastly superior tracks on the album. This is a good thing, obviously.

'What We Gonna Be': Getting our heads around the rapper on this one has proven tricky, but here Grimshaw teams up with Smiler for a deeper descent into drum'n'bass territory. A far braver effort than 'Is This Love', 'What We Gonna Be' again mixes up the tempo as it leaps from grinding urban sounds to intense dance beats and boasts a massively memorable chorus with its 'It hurts but it's worth it' hook.

'Misty Eye': The title track, and another track heard at his recent live shows. Downbeat and moody - Grimshaw pours his not-exactly-hidden intensity into this lovelorn ballad about the lies of an ex lover. The album is based on his personal break-up experiences, and 'Misty Eye' is one of the album's most intimate moments.

'Be Myself': Among all the driving drum'n'bass rhythms and pounding beats on the album, 'Be Myself' stands out as the album's biggest ballad, aided by a sweeping piano refrain and enormous orchestral production. A distant drumbeat threatens to break at any moment, but holds back gracefully, adding to a mature sense of composure and restraint. Not every track needs the kitchen sink approach.

'This Island': Grimshaw goes emo as he returns to the drum'n'bass sounds, blending the beats with a delicate piano and a spectacular vocal. Weighty lyrics with suicide references offers an insight to what appears to be a troubled young man, but he pulls of the scope of his lyrics with ease, his voice stunning here - and throughout the album.

'Breathe Me': This is the one we were worried about - and perhaps rightly so. Sia's original is a truly exceptional recording, and while Grimshaw's cover is well produced and perfectly sung, it doesn't quite attain the same impact as the original. But, if you are going to punch above your weight, he deserves credit for tackling one of the most heartbreaking recordings of all time.

'Poacher's Timing': Among the big productions on the album, 'Poacher's Timing' stuns due to it's sheer simplicity. With all focus on Grimshaw's vocal and backed by a delicate piano, more suicide references drift into play and the youngster proves himself as talented a singer as any reality show winner. A mini masterpiece.

'Nothing At All': Bringing back the beats and saving the best until last, Grimshaw exceeds expectations by saving the album's standout tracks for the finale. 'Nothing At All' is probably the album's biggest pop moment, with a glorious chorus and the closest the album comes to the feel-good record Grimshaw assured us it was when we interview him earlier in the year. Like pop's greatest moments, the heartbroken lyrics are totally at odds with the soaring melody making for a blisstfully sunny listen while dealing with a young man's tattered emotions. Bloody lovely.

'Curtain Call': A huge fan of Moby, the producer's influence on Grimshaw is most apparent on this album closer and second single. Sharing the chorus with a big-lunged vocalist ShezAr (Labrinth's sister), 'Curtain Call' could easily have been pulled from Moby's 'Play' album with the shared chorus vocals and heavy drum beats. Delicate verses explode into an epic, head-turning chorus that hints at the potential of this young singer. A hit, and a big one - if there is any justice in the music world.

In a nutshell, 'Misty Eye' is very good indeed. A mature, restrained debut album which knows exactly when to cut loose and when to hold back, Aiden Grimshaw's debut album is essential 2012 listening for any self respecting pop music fan.

Put aside your feelings on The X Factor and listen without prejudice (someone should call their own album that), 'Misty Eye' is the year's most unexpectedly brilliant album.

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