Steps

It does feel like we are going to have a Gold Part 2 situation as unlikely we will receive a complete new album and due to the amount of work recently and then tour promo along with the tour is going to be alot for them, So at most expecting a Greatest Hits maybe with 3 new tracks and various headlining slots at summer festivals or possibly joining a pop touring festival with a few dates similar to what We Love Pop was going to do in Australia which would appeal to all round pop fans
 
He/him
Ah thanks! Not being in the UK I wondered if I just misremembered/didn't get to experience its impact
They clearly love it, but it just isn't the signature hit they seem to think it is. Even though they've been performing it as part of medleys and just on its own since the original reunion, it really hasn't picked up that many more sales.
 
The concept of performing “Deeper Shade of Blue” in all of these mini promo medleys or short sets makes total sense to me, despite the fact it wasn’t one of their most successful singles at the time.

It’s a band favourite, when they were making their comeback it was always the song they referenced as the type of track they’d be seeking out for new material; and really when you think about it, there’s no other song quite like it in their back catalogue, particularly from their initial run.

I think the same about “Take Me For A Ride” actually, it’s a very good song that isn’t necessarily acknowledged as such by the core fanbase, but will stand the test of time. “To The Beat of my Heart” is fine, but it sounds more like an Alphabeat song than a Steps song. Production wise, whether it was a creative choice or not, it’s very chaotic and cluttered. But different strokes for different folks!
 
I wanted to post my thoughts on the album the other day but I forgot my password, which in a way was a good thing because I've had time to digest it all. I've listened to it several times, and I confirm for me it does improve upon each listen, even the tracks that seemed like a definite no from me on first listen.

I won't bang on too much, but hopefully it'll be interesting for some, I know I love reading your thoughts.

Take Me For A Ride
I was one of the few who was massively impressed by this track from the very beginning. I love the mood, the vocal delivery. I think Claire especially sounds HUGE on the chorus and I think the melody is classic. Totally besotted with it, and was disappointed to see I was in the minority. However, I felt a similar way about some tracks on the previous record, while others didn't, so I know we're not all here for the more Understated Steps. The intro really takes this to a 10 for me. The singles run during the whole What The Future Holds campaign has been incredible, in terms of quality control. 10/10

Heartbreak In This City
I still very much look at this as being a single from the Part 1, but I understand the thinking of having the Michelle featured version on here, and to be fair to the track it's good enough to appear on two records. Was an immediate standout for me on the last record and I still feel like it's like their modern day take on a Steptacular-era track. I truly hope we hear more from Karl Twigg, as well as this Stella Attar person, and of course Mark Topham. 10/10

Wasted Tears
This is the first of a couple of tracks on the record that remind me sonically of "You Make Me Whole", which I loved. It's Steps doing more modern EDM in a way, but the chorus still sounds quintessentially Steps. It could be deemed a bit faceless in terms of it doesn't do anything groundbreaking or new, but having Steps vocals on there really does elevate it for me, especially Lisa's BVs - she really does have a lovely distinctive pop tone. To my ears, this isn't a single, but it's a fine album track by all means. 7/10

A Hundred Years Of Winter
I'm a massive fan of Darren Hayes, but was cautious after "No More Tears On The Dancefloor", which I felt fell a bit flat despite having some great elements - I think that was a result of some limp production, it just felt a bit plodding, and not in an intentional way (See "Take Me For A Ride"). This is obviously a completely different type of song, and a total departure for Steps. I don't think they have anything similar in their back catalogue and for me that's a great thing. I love the production most of all, the unpredictable percussion, the late ABBA-esque synth opener, and the middle 8 instrumental. While I think H sounds the best he has since "Space Between Us", I do think it's VERY H-heavy, especially when Faye almost sounds cut off in the Mid 8. I think this is lined up to be the next single, and while I think that's brave given it doesn't have a female led chorus, I'd be curious to see the fan reaction - and also how a radio edit might sound. 8.5/10

Living In A Lie
This is absolutely "Something In Your Eyes" Part II in every way. Of course it's not quite as good, but it's cut from the same cloth, has the same "3 cans of Red Bull" energy and once again feels like a Steptacular track for 2021. I love the "Tragedy"-like synth that appears here and there, and the whole song just makes me smile, it's quintessential Steps, and had it not been for "Something In Your Eyes", I'd have wanted to see this as a single, but it seems almost too similar and too soon. 9/10

A Million Years
I heard the Mariette version earlier this year and thought fuck, if they get this right it could be one of the best ever Steps songs. I think it's a beautiful melody and lyric, and they've been incredibly loyal to the original's production. It absolutely sounds like a Steps song through and through, whilst again incorporating a more modern EDM, borderline tropical sound, without being too much. I love this tempo for Steps, and it feels like a great companion to the lead single. On the downside, I feel the vocal share has possibly sucked some of the emotion out of the song, and there are times when I thought Claire could have gone a bit harder, but I still think it's a beautiful song, and had I not heard the original, I wouldn't be judging so harshly. I think this is the risk with the Melodifestivalen songs - they're already so brilliant that it's hard to elevate them aside from adding Steps distinctive vocals. Someone on YouTube said the backing track sounds like a dodgy karaoke track, and while I wouldn't say that, I do think they could have possibly changed a few elements to make it their own. 9/10

Trouble & Love
A welcome change of pace and vibe. It's light, airy, fun and Lee is utilised greatly on the chorus. It's placement on the album is perfect and I think it does feel like a breather between the more full on Melodifestivalen style tracks. It's definitely an album track, but it does what it does very well. I was very apprehensive about a new Fiona Bevan contribution as I haven't loved what she's given them aside from "Scared of the Dark", which was obviously top tier, so I am pleasantly surprised. 7/10

Victorious
I never particularly liked the original of this song, and was much less excited about it than "A Million Years". I do understand that they love a motivational, inspirational anthem though (Hello, "Neon Blue"), it's just not my kind of thing, but it definitely caters to some listeners. I think sonically it suffers a similar fate to "I Will Love Again", and given this is an Alias production, I find that a bit unusual because their track record, aside from the vocal treatment of the Tears Deluxe tracks, has been by and large very good. I don't actually mind the fact that some of the synths sound like they were recorded underwater, but the vocals definitely sound muffled in places, and once again I think they didn't breathe enough new life into this track to make it a worthwhile exercise. Beyond all that though, it's not a bad song by any stretch. 6.5/10

Kiss Of Life
To me this feels very much like a 'Tears on the Dancefloor' track. It's effervescent and summery and they sound like they had a lot of fun recording the vocals. It falls somewhere between a good Kylie album track
and any random EDM act's output in the late '00s/'10s. It is nice companion for "Wasted Tears", and again feels like it revisits the "You Make Me Whole" sound, which is something they didn't do on Part 1 at all. It's a little on the generic side in that sense, but even the most generic EDM pop songs are elevated when you put Steps vocals on them. 7/10

High
Without question my least favourite track on the record, and the one to me that feels totally out of place, but then I could say the same about tracks from the previous records, including Part 1, where I routinely skipped "Don't You Leave Us Halfway", because that chorus melody just felt so samey and repetitive to me. This suffers in the same way. I love Claire's vocal in general, but this feels more like her approach on her solo album, and I feel, in the same way as "Under My Skin", this feels like an outtake/reject from her solo project. That said, it does grow on repeated listens, and I wouldn't be in a rush to skip it, but it's for me, the wrong kind of cheese for Steps as a band. It's also a little musical theatre, and I think that might be what they like about it. Perhaps the Facebook mums will love this, and so it serves its purpose. 6/10

The Slightest Touch
When this was released and everyone lost their marbles, I wasn't quite having the same reaction, and I'm still not sure why. It didn't touch the singles from Part 1 for me, but after seeing their backstage video and hearing it repeatedly, it has grown tremendously. What they failed to do with the Melodifestivalen songs, they have managed here - to make this a Steps song, it's a transformation, and it definitely slaps you across the face. After the last three somewhat underwhelming tracks on the album, this definitely allows us to go out on a high. I initially felt it sounded like a remix, but now I love it for that reason. Faye's spoken word section is something we need more of. The Poppers O'Clock breakdown that happens immediately after Claire's high note is brilliant in how unashamed it is, but I wonder is the fact that this song goes so hard the reason it wasn't a single? Perhaps it's just "a bit too much" for Radio 2. But I also wonder if they missed an opportunity and should have released it immediately before the album with a proper music video. Fan reaction seems to suggest that's the case. 9/10

Conclusion
While I can definitely hear that some of these tracks are potentially offcuts from the past few albums, the standard is still pretty high for the most part in terms of this being a great collection of pop songs. It's a lot "brighter" than Part 1 in the sense that most of the tracks are upbeat and lighthearted, but the highs are definitely not as high as that record, and that was always how I expected it to be given this was really supposed to be just a deluxe record. We've done well guys, we got another album in less than a year, it's like 1998-2000 all over again! And for me, getting "Take Me For A Ride" alone makes this whole project worthwhile.

Roll on the 25th, but I do hope they've stashed away something big in terms of a new song, they need it to be top tier in the way "Scared of the Dark" and "Something In Your Eyes" were.

Sorry, that was a lot wasn't it. I lied.

Totally agree with everything you've said here, but I have a soft spot for Trouble & Love as it's kinda cheeky and showcases a Steps first with a Lee-led vocal... and also Lee promising that something's gonna happen tonight (winky face) is very exciting.
 
If we went with signature hits we’d be getting mash ups of 5,6,7,8 and Tragedy everytime.

Deeper Shade wasn’t a big hit when first out. It was their first single not to get a certification. But since it has gone over 200K and silver and when looking at its Spotify numbers (which are split between the single and album version) it is one of their higher streaming songs
 
If we went with signature hits we’d be getting mash ups of 5,6,7,8 and Tragedy everytime.

Deeper Shade wasn’t a big hit when first out. It was their first single not to get a certification. But since it has gone over 200K and silver and when looking at its Spotify numbers (which are split between the single and album version) it is one of their higher streaming songs
It’s probably worth considering Deeper Shade Of Blue being single 4 (5 including Tragedy) from Steptacular. By the time it was released, most people probably had the album.
 
I don't know why they didn't package the BBC 2 concert with a digital edition of the album.
That visual content surely would've pushed a few more units.
I'm in Australia and I would've gotten a digital copy to be able to see that content (which is geo-blocked).
I don’t think they’d be able to as the BBC won’t be allowed to sell their content like that. I’m presuming they’ll be some legal crap preventing it anyway.
 
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