Nathan Sykes Impresses on Debut ‘Unfinished Business’
Former boy bander (and Ariana Grande ex) Nathan Sykes shows off his vocal chops throughout his debut album, ‘Unfinished Business.’
Who is Nathan Sykes? Nathan Sykes is the youngest member of now defunct boy band The Wanted. Also, less pertinent to his musical pedigree, he is a former boyfriend of Ariana Grande. Pertinent to the association is duet “Almost is Never Enough,” which appeared on Grande’s debut album, Yours Truly. But this isn’t about The Wanted or Ari – Sykes releases his debut solo album, Unfinished Business.
“Good Things Come to Those Who Wait”
Unfinished Business opens with a bang thanks to “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.” Kicking off with vocal pad and heavy, buttressing kick drum, it fuels Sykes’ fire for sure. Vocally from the jump he shows off his mad pipes which are soulful through and through. Pre-release single “Kiss Me Quick” follows up in all its pop-soul glory. Slickly produced featuring a jazzy harmonic progression, Sykes is in his wheelhouse. The question is, how could any gal resist those pipes?
Retro-soul is alive and well on “Money,” which successfully blends old-school cues with the finesse of contemporary production. Naturally “Money” is tongue-n-cheek filled with gimmicks. It’s not as refined as the opening duo, but equally, if not more fun. “Freedom” sounds liberated, keeping the tempo quick and the vibe loose. Again, Sykes is convincing AF, belting out the infectious chorus:
“Oh baby please won’t you let me go / Oh baby please ‘cause I need a little freedom / Oh baby please won’t you let me go / oh baby please / oh I need a little freedom.”
“There’s Only One of You”
“Twist” keeps the tempo moving and the music dialed back to the past. Like the songs that precede it, its impressive to hear Sykes’ knack for ad-libs and his various nuances. “I Can’t Be Mad” arrives timely, pulling back pace in favor of balladry. Naturally, this particular record shows another side of Sykes vocally. Two things stick out: (1) how he pulls back initially (2) his falsetto. Still, his inner tiger shows up at just the right moments.
The pace picks up on the mid-tempo “There’s Only One of You.” While there’s a dash of soul, this production itself isn’t as immersed in soul compared to earlier cuts. Still, this has plenty of crossover appeal.
Standout “Famous” reignites parallels to the past, set in a lilting 6/8 and accompanied by bluesy guitar. Think of “Famous” as an updated Sam Cooke song. The premise is simple: the authenticity of love. Sykes suggests the girl that he’s into but isn’t into him will be into him when he becomes famous, which isn’t genuine.
“But will you call me when I’m famous / when I’m famous / would you call my name? / will you call me when I’m famous / when I’m famous / will you call my name? / when I’m famous.”
The groovy, danceable “Give it Up” keeps the swag going strong. “Give it Up” is a hit from jump. To seal the deal, Bay area breakout G-Eazy assists. Sykes is “ON.” The soul is ripe on “More Than You’ll Ever Know,” another joint that sounds like the 50s and 60s. Theatrical, the love that he feels is real:
“And I love you more / more than you’ll ever know / and I need you more / more than you’ll ever know / so, please don’t misbehave with my heart.”
“Over and Over Again”
Two more songs grace the standard version of Unfinished Business: “Over and Over Again” and “I’ll Remember You.” “Over and Over Again” gives the LP a rare ballad. In the process, it also allows Sykes to show off more subtlety, at least in respective moments. “I’ll Remember You” closes spirited, anchored by a stomping beat and mad grit from Sykes. The deluxe edition of Unfinished Business ‘ups the ante,’ adding four additional songs: “Tears in the Rain,” “Over and Over Again” (duet with Ariana Grande), “Taken,” and “Burn Me Down.” “Tears in the Rain” is a can’t-miss.
All in all, Nathan Sykes impresses on his debut Unfinished Business. The effort as a whole is well produced featuring numerous catchy and enjoyable songs. As infectious as the material is, the star is always Sykes who possesses a magnificent voice. Unfinished Business is one of the biggest surprises of the year.
Gems: “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait,” “Kiss Me Quick,” “I Can’t Be Mad,” “Famous,” “Give It Up” (ft. G-Eazy) & “Tears in the Rain”
Nathan Sykes • Unfinished Business • Global Entertainment / Def Jam • Release: 11.11.16
Photo Credit: Def Jam