The Art Of Doing Nothing by Mark Owen is the singer/songwriter’s fourth solo album and his first since Take That reunited in 2006. The album is bound to attract a lot of attention based on Take That’s monumental success in recent years and so I was looking forward to seeing for myself whether it could live up to the hype. Being more of a Gary Barlow fan myself, I sat down to listen feeling slightly sceptical – I can’t say I’ve been particularly fond of Mr Owen’s solo ventures in the past.
Thirty seconds in, I am pleasantly surprised. Opening track ‘Giveaway’ has a really cool feel to it. With some haunting chants and electronic synth noises in the background the track is almost mystical, extremely atmospheric and works well with Owen’s immediately recognisable vocals. The song would be a great movie soundtrack. Second song ‘The One’ is also quite pleasing to the ear drums. With some Gary Barlow-esque melody patterns running through the song it is obvious Owen has been influenced by his Take That band mate, but this is no bad thing. An almost anthemic track, the drum beat provides an uplifting background and the catchy chorus is nice, I could definitely imagine this on the radio. Next is debut single ‘Stars’. After groaning about the recurring space theme (Owen’s most notorious hit with Take That – Shine is full of dodgy space references also) I hopped off my pedestal to actually listen. What surprised me most is how modern Owen’s sound is. His song-writing partners Ben Mark and Jamie Norton have helped the singer create a really current sound. ‘Stars’ is almost reminiscent of an album track for Coldplay. The song has a gradual crescendo throughout and features some lovely violin background instrumentals.
Other stand out tracks – ‘Heaven’s Falling’ and ‘S.A.D’. The former has a really cool almost moody sound and a rousing chorus. It features London rapper Jake Emlyn and his Plan-B esque rapping manner is a welcome addition. I would be surprised if Owen didn’t release this track as a single. ‘S.A.D’ features Ren Harvieu whose rich Lana Del-Rey-ish vocals blend perfectly with Mark Owen’s distinctive rasp. There is a wonderfully grandeur orchestra backing to this song and it really is quite lovely.
‘The Art of Doing Nothing’ has enormously surprised me – in a good way. The album generally has a really uplifting and happy feel and though I would say the majority of tracks are nothing greatly special they are really easy to listen to and I definitely had a little wiggle along. For me, Owen’s vocals just don’t really do it and though his husky tones suited the beautifully produced delicate backing tracks I can’t help but feel like I wish someone else was singing them. A solid, decent album which is perfect background music, but I highly doubt will win any awards.
The Art of Doing Nothing is out on 10 June