Despite their somewhat cheeky, faux-glamorous name, Britain's the Vamps make bland EDM- and R&B-influenced pop that has neither pop teeth nor wild originality on their third studio album, 2017's Night & Day: Night Edition. A four-member boy band who have been nipping at the heels of One Direction since debuting in 2013, the Vamps make dancey, Disney-style pop that's musically frothy and vocally lacking. Dumbfoundedly, Night & Day: Night Edition is even something of a creative step backwards from the group's 2015 effort, Wake Up, in that they've traded an arguably hip, kinetic, guitar-and-synth-based new wave influence for a standard electronic-based, adult contemporary pop approach. One might distantly compare their soft-hitting style to the now improbably iconic '90s outfit Take That, if they actually had some vocal range. Which isn't to say that lead singer Bradley Simpson doesn't have a pleasant voice. The problem is more in the production, which often finds his nasally, yearning croon multi-tracked in unison, a choice that ends up sounding less Justin Timberlake and more children's choir. Think Justin Bieber multiplied and you'll get a good sense of what the Vamps have achieved here. There are a few interesting jams on Night & Day: Night Edition, like the '80s-style, Daft Punk-disco meme "Shades On" and the flamenco-tinged "It's a Lie," featuring Tini. Primarily though, we get warmed-over festival anthems like "All Night" with Matoma, the clubby seducer "Hands" featuring Sabrina Carpenter, and the ersatz Mumford & Sons folk of "Stay." Not helping the situation are the inclusion of two generic, YouTube-ready acoustic-based ballads with "Paper Hearts" and the "More Than Words"-esque rehash "Sad Song." Ultimately, the most disappointing aspect of the Vamps is that with their comic book name and mopsy '90s hair-dos, they promise the kind of hooky pop fun the best boy bands often do. Sadly, Night & Day: Night Edition is the kind of album that could have been recorded by any number of the Vamps' contemporary pop acolytes.
© Matt Collar /TiVo