In a world where the British pop scene is littered with acts that either sound too mainstream European or too desperately like they want to be American and/or sellout to whatever is in musically at the moment, thank God for Olly Murs. Last year's self-titled debut album from the X Factor's Essex boy done good obviously struck a chord with the public when it surpassed the debut sales of his series' winner, Joe McElderry, and went on to reach #2 in the album chart, achieve double platinum sales and more recently, pick up a Radio 1 Teen Award for 'Album of the Year'.
A lot can happen in a year though, no less because of Olly now splitting his time between being a popstar and also a (wittily good) co-host of ITV2's sister show 'The Xtra Factor' with Caroline Flack at the weekends. And somehow, in amongst all the tours and other things he's done in 2011, he's found time to bring us his long awaited second album, the cheekily titled 'In Case You Didn't Know', and it's an album which, I am pleased to say, doesn't sound rushed as most second albums do bar the rare few that don't, and stands him in very good stead to be the first male solo act from a reality show to become as credible and go on for as long as Will Young has.
Whilst the first album took heed from the reggae/ska-pop feel of Madness and Lily Allen - such as on 'Please Don't Let Me Go' and 'Thinking Of Me' - Olly's said that the album takes him back more to the soulful sounds he was renowned for during his time on 'The X Factor' when we first saw him perform the Stevie Wonder classic 'Superstition'. Thus the results of this album are not only utterly winning, but don't take away from the happy, cheeky, uplifting feel to his songs and his lyrics (all of the songs here bar his 2nd number 1 from August, 'Heart Skips A Beat' were co-written by him) that make this universally enjoyable.
'Oh My Goodness' and current single 'Dance With Me Tonight' shuffle into the territories of Smokey and the Miracles-esque Motown and quirky 50's jive rock respectively, whilst 'I've Tried Everything' and 'I'm OK' are skiffly ventures into indie-pop that remind you of first album-era Jack Peñate, all whilst Olly sings with an undercut of melancholia about walking up Primrose Hill and chasing a sweetheart up the stairs of a double decker bus. Indeed, it's the contrast of the perky vs the glum that makes this album such a pleasure to listen to. But Olly shows another trick to his pack, on the album's two ballads 'This Song Is About You' and the closing number 'I Need You Now', as they really stretch and show off the white boy soul qualities in his voice, which has grown in depth since the last album.
Olly should be very proud of 'In Case You Didn't Know' - for once, along with Nicola Roberts' "Cinderella's Eyes", a British pop act has made an album this year that sounds so uniquely British and absolutely nailed it in the process. I wouldn't mind betting he'll be looking down the barrel of a quadruple platinum album by the time next summer rolls around.