Jedward’s new album, ‘Voice Of A Rebel’, is about love, desire, and a maturity which may surprise casual listeners. ‘Voice Of A Rebel’ was released 27 June, through Universal Music.
2019 marks ten years in the music business for Jedward, and they have seen a lot of artists come along during that time…and likewise have seen many vanish just as quickly.
Far from vanishing, Jedward are very much still around, and have this week released their fourth album, ‘Voice Of A Rebel’. Seven years in the making – their previous album, ‘Young Love’, was released in 2012 – and at a massive 22 songs, with every one better than the one before, and covering a range of different musical styles, it’s a lot to unpack and take in.
If your only experience of Jedward’s music is a half-remembered idea about their time on X Factor in 2009, or their back to back performances at Eurovision for their native Ireland in 2011 and 2012, then it’s time to move on, and quite frankly, get with the programme. ‘Voice Of A Rebel’ comes close to being the perfect album, with something for everyone – every adult that is – and it is, without a doubt, an adult album. John and Edward turn 28 later this year, and their songs have been written about their own life experiences, their hopes, their passions, their desires. And on top of all that, the overwhelming theme is one of positivity and the belief that no matter how shitty things might be right now, tomorrow is always a brighter day.
John and Edward had teased fans with previews of several of the songs, and we’d heard four tracks performed in full on their recent UK tour. For the vast majority of the album however, this was the first time fans had heard many of the songs. And I can most definitely say, it was well worth the seven year wait.
As with previous album ‘Young Love’, ‘Voice Of A Rebel’ runs like a concept album; there’s a definite theme to the order of the songs. It opens with ‘Soul Crushing’, which along with second song, ‘Bodies In Action’ had been released as a grat track when pre-ordering on iTunes, and was also made available to stream on Spotify. I was therefore already familiar with the harrowing sadness of the song, one which I’m certain many of us can relate to. ‘Bodies In Action’ is a much more positive song, and up to that point, among the most adult Jedward songs fans had ever heard.
At this juncture, I must point out that every single song on this album has been written by John and Edward themselves. Additionally, the twins have produced and arranged the tracks, as well of course singing on them, and playing a variety of instruments. In these days when the majority of top 40 songs seem to be written by committees, it’s an incredible, and sobering thought to realise that all the songs on ‘Voice Of A Rebel’ have come out of the heads of just two people – and twins at that.
Third song, ‘Follow My Whispers’, takes ‘Bodies In Action’ a step further, and goes into some detail about a relationship, while leaving some room (not much, if I’m to be honest) to the imagination.
‘Wishmaker’, which follows, feels like a reflection about the girl a few days later; they’re falling fast for her and pleading with the “wishmaker” to grant their desires.
The first few songs are up-tempo pop tunes, with ‘Soul Crushing’ in particular showcasing John’s guitar talents. ‘Bodies In Action’ and ‘Wishmaker’ are the first songs on the album to have EDM stylings; ‘Wishmaker’ has a very retro, almost disco vibe that will have you bobbing in your seat (or getting up out of your chair and dancing – heck why not!).
‘Teenage Runaway’ opens with a gentle synth instrumental, before building up to an incredibly dance-able chorus. It’s a positive and encouraging song, dealing with the feeling of not fitting in with what’s going on about you but coming to the realisation that you don’t need to – you can forge your own lane and live as you want, you don’t have to be like everyone else. A “teenage runaway” can, in the words of John and Edward, be any age. A fan favourite when it’s been performed on their recent tour, ‘Teenage Runaway’ is, without a doubt, a banger.
In any other album, song six, ‘Phoenix Wings’, would mark the midway point, but on ‘Voice Of A Rebel’ we’re just about a third of the way through. John gets his guitar out again, and along with sweet vocal harmonies from both him and Edward, it works well in conjunction with the electronic, almost chiptune instrumental. ‘Phoenix Wings’ has been a song alluded to by Jedward for a number of years, and it was one of the tracks they gave a short preview for in the weeks leading to the album release. It had however never been revealed in full before the album came out. Not so track 7, and in our opinion, possibly the greatest contender for third single, ‘Extraordinary’. John and Edward explained that the song is about putting yourself out there for someone – with the hope that the other person feels the same way, and accepting that there may be rejection; but that’s okay. The melody is beautiful, an almost Celtic sound to the verses, which are augmented by the FULL ON EDM chorus. An extraordinary song, not just in name alone.
‘Respect Your Dreams’ is an incredible track, starting out as it means to go on, full power, John and Edward earnestly demanding that we don’t let haters get to us; that we’re never too old to follow our dreams – in fact we should respect them – and we should never write ourselves off. Excellent advice, and as so many Jedward fans can attest (myself included), John and Edward are experts at encouraging people to follow their dreams; haven’t they followed their own dreams themselves after all?
So far the predominant musical flavours have been dance pop, with a little retro rock thrown in for good measure. The rock vibe gets stronger, with the electric guitar and bass in the opening of ‘Kid At Heart’, before taking a little journey into the past, somewhat reminiscent of George Michael, in the bridge. ‘Kid At Heart’ is fairly self-explanatory. Like several other songs on this album, there’s a familiar element to the song, causing the listener to pause a moment and think about where they’ve heard that before. ‘Kid At Heart’, like ‘Teenage Runaway’, asks the listener to let go of those things that are holding them back and just return to the state of being where you were free:
You gotta let yourself taste the freedom
Remember you’re alive, be a kid at heart.
I must comment at this point about Edward’s vocals on this track, at just about the 2.14 mark. He lets rip and shows us what he’s capable of and ahh 😉
‘True Calling’ opens up with electric guitar and stunning harmonies. Slightly slower paced to start with, it quickly picks it up and rises into the most beautiful chorus –
Do you hear me
Oh can you set me free
Cos you’re all I need
Oh baby you are my true calling
It’s pure anthemic pop and sets us off on an emotional rollercoaster.
‘Taste The Heat’ takes us back to the passionate songs, and is the first of a run of very sensual songs. In fact, we could take it a step further and say they’re very sexual indeed; lyrics such as,
‘You’ve got me all charged up with pure emotion
A passion running deeper than the ocean
And I can’t get enough
No I can’t get enough of your love
So let me take you there
Oh let me take you there show you I really care’
‘Cos I see you strut your stuff when you walk in the room
And I’m right here enjoying the view
Cos I see you strut your stuff so what we gonna do
I can taste the heat
I know you feel it too’
‘Work that body
Press it up on me
Come on let’s make some moonlight memories
Oh baby work that body
Press it up on me
Yeah I can taste the heat
I know you can feel it too’
Very adult feelings, very adult emotions, and definitely a very hot song. Yeah we can taste the heat.
‘Spice Things Up’ has an appropriately Middle Eastern flavour to the instrumentation, before launching into something that sounds like a cross between Dancehall and EDM. Jedward certainly have no fear about crossing genre boundaries, and given the twins are classically trained musicians and lifelong music fans, they know how to make different styles work well together. And this song is as good an example as any other track on the album to illustrate this. Lyrically opening with,
I’ll make you come alive
Spice spice I know what you like
Spice spice looking oh so fine
Spice spice I’m going to make you mine’
They pull no punches with what their intentions are. ‘Voice Of A Rebel’ is, when it comes down to it, a dance album, rather than strictly a pop album. Every track is charged with the energy to rouse even the most lethargic listener.
‘Lip Bite’ is possibly the most explicit song on this album, without going so far as to need “EXPLICIT” written next to the track. But this is where Jedward excel; they have a gift for wordplay which leaves their lyrics open to enough interpretation that they can fly safely under the radar if you’re not listening too closely (case in point, the line, ‘oh you got me flowing like a waterfall’ in ‘Wishmaker’). With ‘Lip Bite’, however, if you’ve missed all that in previous songs, you’re unlikely to misinterpret the lines,
Yeah I’m ready
Ready when you are baby
So just say the word when you want me
Tonight let’s go all the way
Yeah I know you like that lip bite
Yeah I’m living for this
You’re such a tease
Everything you do is giving me the feels
So baby let me get you out of them jeans
And I promise I can make you scream
Oh baby come on taste my flavour
I’m on my bad behaviour
Yeah babe I’ve got the power
To have you feeling better
You tell me and I’ll show ya
I’ll strike you hard like thunder
Can’t fight this any longer
So be my dirty dancer
Beautifully poetic, and so so passionate.
‘Thirsty’, by comparison, is very tame, and an absolute bop, with a funky RnB vibe that reminds us so much, once again, of George Michael, maybe with more than a touch of Justin Timberlake, and a whole lot of Michael Jackson. Overall there is a strong 80s feel to ‘Voice Of A Rebel’, and it’s quite apparent in ‘Thirsty’. Our favourite line in this song is ‘I bet you’re sweet and tasty like my favourite juice’ – with ‘juice’ sung in falsetto. So, so, so good.
There’s a rather excellent, almost rap, break down in the last third of the song – think Bruno Mars in ‘Uptown Funk’ – with John tripping out his words like poetry – and again, we recommend you listen closely to these lines, there’s no punches pulled.
‘Freedom You Deserve’ marks the return to inspiring tracks, while at the same time it’s a love song – and an absolute blast of a dance track. We defy anyone listening to this to remain sitting in their seat – in fact, when they performed this song on tour the entire venue rocked with everyone jumping.
Our favourite line in ‘Freedom You Deserve’ was the uplifting motto,
‘Cos there’s nobody like you in this universe
Stand for what you believe
Always know your worth’.
Track 16, ‘Born To Touch Your Heart’ is a complete contrast to every other song on the album, so much so that we wonder if it’s been added as an afterthought. We don’t mind though; the 8-bit style of the track is upbeat and uplifting, and puts to our mind the idea of a retro computer game, such as Super Mario Bros, or even something from a Pokémon film (check out this quite frankly awesome edit to see what we mean). It’s fun, it’s dancey, it’s absolutely gorgeous, and on an album of favourites, has to be a highlight for us – an insanely catchy track.
‘Running With The Angels’ is another soundtrack-y song – in fact, when listened to in entirety, we could see ‘Voice Of A Rebel’ being adapted to a musical film or stage play, in the vein of ‘Once’. ‘Running With The Angels’ shows that they’ve certainly moved on from the sadness of ‘Soul Crushing’, and rather, they’ve found the light at the end of the tunnel. Sonically it’s a dance track and a half, and again, as like so many other songs on this album, they’ve found the perfect hooks to claw their way into your brain and earworm for hours, if not weeks.
‘Legends’ opens with an almost classical keyboard instrumental, taking up a full 15 seconds of the track. In these days where songs are written to a formula, which includes cutting back on musical lead ins so those who stream only the first 30 seconds of a song will get a feel for the track, this is a very refreshing thing to find, and it’s clear that Jedward intend for the album to be listened to as a complete entity from start to finish. And though it’s a total of 80 minutes in length, there’s enough variety in the styles of songs that this is never an issue, you never get bored. ‘Legends’ is feisty and affirmative, with the very catchy
‘Bang bang we’re coming through
Tell me where you’re at
If you’re coming too
Bang bang we’re coming through
I swear, we are gonna be legends!’
…punching high as an anthem of positivity.
Moving into the final stretch, ‘Heroes Of The Future’ is yet another strongly “soundtracky” songs, and opening a bit more slowly than the previous fired up ‘Legends’, it feels as though it might well have been originally chosen to be the final song on the album. The instrumentals are very pleasing, while lyrically it’s encouraging and hopeful:
‘Together we can be the heroes of the future
There’s a fighter in me
Who knows what we’ll become’.
Get yourself a man like this, who will sing you songs of encouragement, and who promises to be a knight in shining armour prepared to fight all dragons you encounter!
‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ opens with a guitar intro that reminds us of Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’, crossed with more than a hint of ‘Pinball Wizard’ by The Who. It’s powerful stuff, and one of our favourite songs on the album, for no reason less than the emotive lyrics, a small sample of which are the opening lines:
‘Choose your own adventure
Bring your vision to life
Power to the dreamers
We own the night
Choose your own adventure
Let me hear you roar
They’re never gonna steal
The magic in our eyes
You gotta wear your own skin to be who you are
Give yourself the freedom
Don’t be someone you’re not
Believe me there’s a hero in everyone
Waiting to be found just know you’re not alone’
It’s another song that could have well been the final track on the album, and would also work well in a film. It’s a grand song, in the sense of having a huge feel, and I can’t wait until I hear this performed live.
I was unsure of ‘Live For The Magic’ when Jedward first tweeted a preview for the song. There’s a part of the track where it feels like the instrumentation has been played in reverse, with the vocals laid over top (going the right way around). But in its entirety however, it sounds totally different, and I think I’m completely in love with the opening lines, which follow on from the simply delightful piano introduction,
‘Let’s stay wrapped up in a bow of love
And always be together like turtle-doves
Cos there’s a twinkling oasis when we’re face to face
Oh I know for sure you’re my true soul mate
I see a star-shaped world when you’re around
You take me far away from this lonely town
I want to love you beyond infinity
No-one comes close to you
You make me feel complete’
Deep sigh, heart eyes, this is just delightful. And that’s even before the super-up-tempo high energy dance chorus comes in. Beautiful!
The very last song on the album is the title track, ‘Voice Of A Rebel’. And in my opinion, they’ve saved the best for last. It’s big, bold, brash, anthemic. It opens with a SAW/PWL style techno instrumental that gets you right in the mood from the get go. It builds up to John and Edward’s vocals, which – in keeping with the SAW theme – remind us of Pete Burns’ on the Dead Or Alive smash, ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’. It’s hard hitting, it’s powerful, it’s strong, it’s a manifesto of all John and Edward stand for:
‘I’ve got the voice of a rebel
I ain’t no saint, but I soar like an angel
Cos I’ve got the voice of a rebel
I need somebody who’s on my level’
The instrumentals are incredible; they’re confronting and confusing, and yet, the perfect match for this song.
If you’ve stayed with us right to the end, thank you. In retrospect, I could possibly have summed this album up in fifteen words:
‘Voice Of A Rebel’ by Jedward is, to put it mildly, a fucking sexy album.
‘Voice Of A Rebel’ is out now through Universal Music Singapore, and can be streamed and downloaded here.
Read all our other Jedward articles here.