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Relaxed, refreshed and bursting with energy, Westlife, the quiet superstars of the mainstream UK music scene, bounce back with their new album ‘Face To Face.’ It’s a world that they have dominated for seven years and the album features all the hallmarks of that reign - a collection of classic songs and future standards. In brief, ‘Face To Face’ finds Westlife doing what they’ve always done best.
After a brief interlude with their Rat Pack album of classic song sung in the style of Sinatra, ‘Face To Face’ is Westlife’s first collection of new songs since ‘Turnaround’ topped the charts in 2003.
“I think this album shows that Westlife are back in a big way. It’s got the best material we’ve ever released,” says Shane confidently. Agrees Nicky: “At the time Turnaround seemed like one of our best albums - and this one feels even better.”
A familiar blend of big ballads and mid-tempo tunes, balanced by the occasional up-tempo song, ‘Face To Face’ presents Westlife playing to their strengths – passionate vocals and memorable tunes. It’s a straightforward formula that’s been winning hearts and ears since the dawn of popular music, from the doo-wop days of the Platters, through the timeless harmonies of the Drifters and Coasters, to the slick modern sounds of Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, Take That and Boyzone. But no one’s done it with so much success as Westlife – 34 million album sales are testament to that!
Following four months’ holidays – the longest break of their entire career – the boys have returned to action sounding stronger, fresher and hungrier than ever. “I think the break did us good,” says Nicky, who spent much of his summer getting in shape in the gym. “We still look at ourselves as the luckiest band in the world, but when you do something so long and so frequently, you’re bound to need time to recharge your batteries.”
That freshness can be heard all over ‘Face To Face.’ The band have never sounded in better voice and they’ve rarely had a better choice of material on which to show it. “We know we have to raise the bar each time we make an album and be bigger and better,” acknowledges Shane, who recently became a father for the first time. After seven years together, their seventh album finds them at the top of their game, and it’s a big game they play in, with six multi-platinum albums in the UK alone. Add to that the Brit Awards, MTV Award, 12 UK number one’s; Westlife are amazingly one of the biggest brands on the planet.
Songwriting and production duties are equally divided between long-term collaborator Steve Mac and Swedish hit-makers The Location, returning to the Westlife fold after working on their first two albums (and for Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC among many others), with recording done in Ireland, Sweden and London over the long hot summer.
And the secret behind their rejuvenated sound – not such a secret really – is that they’ve just recharged their batteries with the longest holiday of their career. “We had nearly four months off and it felt like three years,” laughs Nicky. “The break made us realize how much we wanted to start work again. At the end of it I couldn’t wait to get back into the studio.”
A new start and a new chapter… but the Westlife story is far from over.