11 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

“We think it's our best work in a very, very long time,” Kian Egan of Irish pop legends Westlife tells Apple Music. Nine years after their last studio album, Gravity, Egan, Nicky Byrne, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan have reunited. “We met as a band and said, ‘What should Westlife sound like in 2019?’” Filan says. “A lot has happened in music since our last tour.” They’re right that pop has moved in many directions since those 2012 “farewell” shows in Europe and China—and especially since their 1999 breakout hit “Flying Without Wings”—but Spectrum absorbs those changes into their sound. The 11 tracks showcase the quartet’s enduring chemistry through irresistible harmonies. “The Westlife sound is based on us as singers more than a type of song or a tempo,” says Egan. “We've managed to create a really cool new uptempo sound, but it still sounds like us, because at the end of the day, it's us singing that makes it a Westlife song.” Let Filan and Egan guide you through their 11th album, track by track.

Hello My Love
Shane Filan: “When we were coming back as a band, it was very important that Steve [Mac, their long-standing producer and collaborator] was involved. He wrote our first single and some of our biggest hits. There's a lot of history and a lot of friendship that we had for 20 years, so I think it was a passion project for him. He was going back to where he started as well. This first song is a perfect example of the sound that we found together. It's very unique to us, and I don't think it's like anybody else on the radio at the moment.”

Better Man
SF: “Steve Mac was working with Ed Sheeran for a few years after they wrote ‘Shape of You’. Ed was coming in the studio to write songs and was like, ‘I want to write a Westlife song.’ So they were writing for us and we weren't even together at the time. When we came back, they had already written two songs! An amazing start to the album, because we had ‘Hello My Love’ and this song as the first two. Ed’s a Westlife fan and genuinely wanted to be involved in our music, which was great. He told us stories about him growing up with his family in Ireland. He said he learned to play the guitar to Westlife’s greatest hits, so he would have been about 10 years old, and Steve wrote all of those songs! So when Ed met Steve for the first time, they were probably a bit in awe of each other. It was a perfect union for them to come together and write Westlife songs, and we just happened to come back to put it together nine months later.”

My Blood
Kian Egan: “This is one of those songs that hits you in the heart. I think the lyrics—no matter who you are in the world—are going to have an effect on you. The lyrics are so special and unique; they tell a beautiful story about the struggle of life and how your parents are always going to be there for you to help. The first few times we heard this song, we were all in tears. My wife had to walk out of the room after hearing the chorus—she just couldn't take it. It’s definitely one of the strongest ballads we've had for a very long time.”

Dynamite
SF: “This is another Steve Mac song. After hearing ‘Hello My Love’ and ‘Better Man’, we felt the album's character was really starting to form. We were finding this sound and were very happy with it. The lyrics in this song talk about colours, and that put our minds to focusing on the album being Spectrum. We’re showing a more colourful and exciting Westlife.”

Dance
SF: “This is the most boundary-pushing song on the album. It's very contemporary and different for us. It was a Ryan Tedder song. He's a great songwriter, and he sent through some songs to see if we liked any, and this one popped out. The key it had and the sound, we thought, ‘That's kind of quirky. Is it too much?’ So we vocalled it, and when we got it back a month later, we fell in love with the song.”

One Last Time
SF: “This song was a sleeping giant for us. When we got the songs from Steve, we started playing around with them, and ‘Hello My Love’ was obviously such a standout at the start. ‘One Last Time’ became one of those songs like, ‘That's a lovely song,’ until we recorded it, and then it became one that everybody was going around singing. Towards the end of finishing the album we were like, ‘Hold on. This song has got to be right up top.’”

Take Me There
SF: “Sometimes people get down or into a place where they're worried. You want somebody to take you out of that and take you to your happy place. That was an important lyric for us on this song. We were trying to write a song that you would hear in a stadium and be uplifting. We're about to go on a tour next summer and are playing Wembley Stadium for the first time. We were thinking we had to write something powerful and fun to perform on tour.”

Repair
KE: “‘Repair’ is such a cool song because it's quite haunting. It has that Enya influence to it, a Celtic-Irish haunting sound. This was written by James Bay. He’s one of those artists that became successful during our time away and now we’re back and have all these amazing young singer-songwriters writing for us. We’re really lucky. I think about these guys that are big in the music industry and it makes me feel old in a way, because I’m thinking, ‘Wait, they were kids when we were releasing records?’ It's incredible to think that what we did 20 years ago has an effect on what they’re doing now.”

Without You
KE: “This is a cracking tune. It starts off nice and mellow, then just builds into this massive chorus of passion and screaming at a partner that your life is pointless without them. When I think about my own relationship, I really feel that. Everything that I do in my life wouldn’t have the same effect if I didn't have my wife as part of it all. They're simple but very effective lyrics. I remember the first day we heard it, we were blown away after one listen. This is the second song that James Bay wrote with Steve Mac. It’s brilliant.”

L.O.V.E.
SF: “There was a beat going, and me and Mark started singing automatically. This L-O-V-E thing came out and we started writing it about what would it be like for a kid. I was thinking of my daughter; she's 14 now and getting to that age where she's maybe thinking about boys and stuff like that. Someday, she'll have this feeling. It might be in a couple of years, but I tried to picture what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. The whole song is about being in love and being happy, so it’s upbeat. It’s also very different for us! We never would have had a song like this on the album nine years ago.”

Another Life
KE: “We chose this as the last song on the album because we felt it was a nice mellow song and a good way to end. It’s not one of those big production songs; it has much more of a chilled-out acoustic vibe to it. Also, ending the album with the song title ‘Another Life’ was perfect because it is another life for Westlife and a nice way of saying goodbye to the fans with this album.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

“We think it's our best work in a very, very long time,” Kian Egan of Irish pop legends Westlife tells Apple Music. Nine years after their last studio album, Gravity, Egan, Nicky Byrne, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan have reunited. “We met as a band and said, ‘What should Westlife sound like in 2019?’” Filan says. “A lot has happened in music since our last tour.” They’re right that pop has moved in many directions since those 2012 “farewell” shows in Europe and China—and especially since their 1999 breakout hit “Flying Without Wings”—but Spectrum absorbs those changes into their sound. The 11 tracks showcase the quartet’s enduring chemistry through irresistible harmonies. “The Westlife sound is based on us as singers more than a type of song or a tempo,” says Egan. “We've managed to create a really cool new uptempo sound, but it still sounds like us, because at the end of the day, it's us singing that makes it a Westlife song.” Let Filan and Egan guide you through their 11th album, track by track.

Hello My Love
Shane Filan: “When we were coming back as a band, it was very important that Steve [Mac, their long-standing producer and collaborator] was involved. He wrote our first single and some of our biggest hits. There's a lot of history and a lot of friendship that we had for 20 years, so I think it was a passion project for him. He was going back to where he started as well. This first song is a perfect example of the sound that we found together. It's very unique to us, and I don't think it's like anybody else on the radio at the moment.”

Better Man
SF: “Steve Mac was working with Ed Sheeran for a few years after they wrote ‘Shape of You’. Ed was coming in the studio to write songs and was like, ‘I want to write a Westlife song.’ So they were writing for us and we weren't even together at the time. When we came back, they had already written two songs! An amazing start to the album, because we had ‘Hello My Love’ and this song as the first two. Ed’s a Westlife fan and genuinely wanted to be involved in our music, which was great. He told us stories about him growing up with his family in Ireland. He said he learned to play the guitar to Westlife’s greatest hits, so he would have been about 10 years old, and Steve wrote all of those songs! So when Ed met Steve for the first time, they were probably a bit in awe of each other. It was a perfect union for them to come together and write Westlife songs, and we just happened to come back to put it together nine months later.”

My Blood
Kian Egan: “This is one of those songs that hits you in the heart. I think the lyrics—no matter who you are in the world—are going to have an effect on you. The lyrics are so special and unique; they tell a beautiful story about the struggle of life and how your parents are always going to be there for you to help. The first few times we heard this song, we were all in tears. My wife had to walk out of the room after hearing the chorus—she just couldn't take it. It’s definitely one of the strongest ballads we've had for a very long time.”

Dynamite
SF: “This is another Steve Mac song. After hearing ‘Hello My Love’ and ‘Better Man’, we felt the album's character was really starting to form. We were finding this sound and were very happy with it. The lyrics in this song talk about colours, and that put our minds to focusing on the album being Spectrum. We’re showing a more colourful and exciting Westlife.”

Dance
SF: “This is the most boundary-pushing song on the album. It's very contemporary and different for us. It was a Ryan Tedder song. He's a great songwriter, and he sent through some songs to see if we liked any, and this one popped out. The key it had and the sound, we thought, ‘That's kind of quirky. Is it too much?’ So we vocalled it, and when we got it back a month later, we fell in love with the song.”

One Last Time
SF: “This song was a sleeping giant for us. When we got the songs from Steve, we started playing around with them, and ‘Hello My Love’ was obviously such a standout at the start. ‘One Last Time’ became one of those songs like, ‘That's a lovely song,’ until we recorded it, and then it became one that everybody was going around singing. Towards the end of finishing the album we were like, ‘Hold on. This song has got to be right up top.’”

Take Me There
SF: “Sometimes people get down or into a place where they're worried. You want somebody to take you out of that and take you to your happy place. That was an important lyric for us on this song. We were trying to write a song that you would hear in a stadium and be uplifting. We're about to go on a tour next summer and are playing Wembley Stadium for the first time. We were thinking we had to write something powerful and fun to perform on tour.”

Repair
KE: “‘Repair’ is such a cool song because it's quite haunting. It has that Enya influence to it, a Celtic-Irish haunting sound. This was written by James Bay. He’s one of those artists that became successful during our time away and now we’re back and have all these amazing young singer-songwriters writing for us. We’re really lucky. I think about these guys that are big in the music industry and it makes me feel old in a way, because I’m thinking, ‘Wait, they were kids when we were releasing records?’ It's incredible to think that what we did 20 years ago has an effect on what they’re doing now.”

Without You
KE: “This is a cracking tune. It starts off nice and mellow, then just builds into this massive chorus of passion and screaming at a partner that your life is pointless without them. When I think about my own relationship, I really feel that. Everything that I do in my life wouldn’t have the same effect if I didn't have my wife as part of it all. They're simple but very effective lyrics. I remember the first day we heard it, we were blown away after one listen. This is the second song that James Bay wrote with Steve Mac. It’s brilliant.”

L.O.V.E.
SF: “There was a beat going, and me and Mark started singing automatically. This L-O-V-E thing came out and we started writing it about what would it be like for a kid. I was thinking of my daughter; she's 14 now and getting to that age where she's maybe thinking about boys and stuff like that. Someday, she'll have this feeling. It might be in a couple of years, but I tried to picture what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. The whole song is about being in love and being happy, so it’s upbeat. It’s also very different for us! We never would have had a song like this on the album nine years ago.”

Another Life
KE: “We chose this as the last song on the album because we felt it was a nice mellow song and a good way to end. It’s not one of those big production songs; it has much more of a chilled-out acoustic vibe to it. Also, ending the album with the song title ‘Another Life’ was perfect because it is another life for Westlife and a nice way of saying goodbye to the fans with this album.”

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