Tom Odell rose to fame in 2012 with his single “Another Love” and has continued to achieve success since there. Odell won the BRITs Critics’ Choice Award in 2013 and in 2014, he won Songwriter of the Year award at the Ivor Novello Awards. His first studio album, Long Way Down was released in June, 2013 and reached number one in the UK Official Albums Chart.
His new album Wrong Crowd was released on 10 June, after Odell had been working on the album for a year. The album features 11 tracks, including the title track “Wrong Crowd”, which was released as a single initially. Odell released the track along with a music video, as well as announcing his latest tour ‘No Bad Days’. This is his first album released with RCA records, as his previous album was released with Columbia.
Odell has a very distinctive sound, there is no question of who is singing when his vocals chime in. “Wrong Crowd” is one such track, as the initial intro paves the way for Odell’s echo-y voice. The music is simple, there is a studio drum beat to create the underlay for the track, folk whistling joins in after the first chorus and the focus is on the lyrics. The track is certainly layered, with a guitar riff breaking in to change up the tone and timing towards the end.
The song is catchy and repetitive, “I guess I always keep hanging round with the wrong crowd” and the tone of the song is one of acceptance, Odell cannot help the path he keeps taking so instead of trying and failing to change, he just accepts the way of his world. It is certainly a continuation of Odell’s indie pop sound, and will climb its way through the charts just as his previous tracks have done.
“Concrete” begins with a tribal drum sound, which is fast paced and lifting, as though the track will be the same. However, the track then has a snap pace change and switches to a slow and soulful sound, which takes the listener by surprise and raises questions of where the track is going to go next. This track has the makings of a number one, as it engages the listener straight away, and Odell clearly knows how to write songs that will stick in the minds of those who hear it.
The harmonies of Odell’s vocals paired with his backing singers are touching, you feel as though the singing is reaching your soul and it completely overwhelms you. This displays Odell’s talents, as the song resounds with you even after it has finished. “I’d sleep on a bed that’s made of concrete/ Just the two of us and no sheet”, the message of the song is that through fame, Odell could have all the material things in the world, but what matters to him is sentimentality and the one he loves.
Each track seems to develop its own sound, as though Odell was experiencing different emotions when he was writing and producing each one. “Silhouette” begins classically, like a Disney song between Prince Charming and a princess, but then breaks through into an upbeat pop track, as Odell keeps his listeners second-guessing him. The beat and vocal structure sounds almost like Keane’s Spiraling album, although his voice cannot be compared to any other.
Odell is a modern day music genius, he knows exactly how to write track that will be enjoyed by a larger group of music tastes and will as a result achieve success in the charts. The song title suggests there is an example of something that is not there, and that’s the theme of the song, “It reminds me of someone that I used to know”. Somebody he used to have haunts Odell, and he sees this person wherever he looks even though they are lost, which is a constant pain for him when he is not over the loss. Odell writes his songs with meaning and understanding, and that is a part of his success.
Odell is definitely on to become one of British pop music greats. He produces quality material each time he releases an album or a track, and he has the passion for the business and the music. He did not achieve the position he is in now by auditioning for a music competition or through knowledge of people with positions of power, he grafted by busking and attending open mic nights and his motivation is what paid off. Odell is a consistent and talented artist.
Tom Oddel’s Wrong Crowd is out now via Sony Music’s RCA Records, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Libby Beacham