He didn’t start The Fire.
It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, 27-year-old Matt Cardle went from skateboarder to superstar, winning the U.K. version of The X Factor in 2010, beating out Cher Lloyd, One Direction and Rebecca Ferguson. Though he was part of several bands during the better half of the last decade, like Darwyn and Seven Summers, he is best known for wowing viewers on the show, taking the most votes each week since Week 2 of the ginals. He was on top of the world when his debut single, “When We Collide”, spent nearly a month at #1 on the U.K. Singles Chart, and to date, has sold over 1 million copies. His album, Letters, was also a success, entering at #2 on the Album Chart in 2011. However, during that era, it was clear that something just wasn’t clicking with the artist or his audience. Lead single “Run For Your Life” managed a modest #6, but declined pretty rapidly with no certification whatsoever. The next two singles, despite some promotional push, couldn’t even bust through the top 75. He was an obvious candidate for a contract cancellation, but that didn’t stop his passion for making music recording.
Now, being from the United States, I’ve seen some of his televised performances on YouTube and heard most of his single releases, but I don’t know a lot about the guy, although he does look like a cleaned-up version of Marcus Mumford if he wanted to go on the tribute band circuit. In all seriousness, he seems genuinely nice, though, and I’m sure he must have been disappointed and frustrated going from a major record label to no label and then to an independent one. There was much behind-the-scenes drama that I don’t need to go into (though you can view it in the comments below.) That being said, a lot of his stuff on his first album was glossy; overused strings was the main culprit, though vocally, it’s also a little bit overdramatic. His latest release, The Fire, finds Cardle in a most comfortable zone. It skews in a more alternative direction, which is probably what he wanted to do in the first place, and the use of less co-writers and producers makes it a more cohesive effort. It’s more real, more personal, more himself.
“Anyone Else”, Cardle’s latest single at an experienced 29-years-old, was written by he and Jeff Halatrax, who has produced for acts like Kevin Rudolf and Selena Gomez & The Scene in the past. It’s the followup to his leadoff single of a few months ago, “It’s Only Love”. With those names in mind, I’m guessing that maybe you thought he had gone for an electro-pop twist this time around. After all, it’s all the rage nowadays. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you if you’re we’re thinking that was the correct route. It’s not. “Only” treaded back into the more familiar territory of Cardle’s first album, though a little more restrained, but now, he provides a good balance of edgy vocals and pop/rock instrumentation in his latest release.
Right from the start, the guitar kicks in and you know this isn’t going to be a slow and sleepy ballad. No, this is a funky and a sassy number. Cardle shows a lot of growth particularly with this track over his last era; it’s a stomper with a pinch of an R&B throwback vibe, probably the closest that he flirts with the genre. Speaking of flirting, how about those lyrics? That’s probably the biggest change if you’re a big fan of his and perhaps the focus of my draw to the song. To begin, “Get up, I’m ready, baby / For a little more if you’re feeling it / On top, go steady, baby / are you ready? are you ready?” There is far too much to dissect in just those few lines, but this no, “So, run for your life / Don’t leave me behind,” etc. This is a different kind of marathon, if you know what I mean. Let’s just say, I think that someone wasn’t satisfied with his other half at the time and decided that “the other woman” was an appropriate option to go to: “To make a little love to you was all I ever really needed.” Also, the intentional pause between “I don’t wanna” and “girls” in the next line… I see what you did there. Then, by the second verse, he’s already kicking out the girl and saying that he wants to go back to his girlfriend and rekindle the relationship. What gives? I mean, at least you could afford to pay for the taxi, maybe feed her something before she goes? She wasn’t good in bed, was she? Oh, I get it. Everybody has their standards, and writing about it is one way of dealing with the pain. I think that these days this is affectionately known as the Taylor Swift Method of writing. He, however, doesn’t need to sing about it in a immature manner to get across his point.
Cardle states that he wrote the song in Los Angeles and woke up one morning with a different take on some “stuff” that had gone on at the time. Much of the album, including “Anyone”, was inspired by a relationship with dancer Sarah Robinson. (He’s now separated from her.) It would seem that she is the girlfriend/old lover figure in this story, but who is the other lady? We don’t know who Cardle actually chooses in the end, but I guess you can make your own mind up about that. He may tell his new lover to leave, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she won’t seduce him again. Hey, the girlfriend might not even want him back for breaking it off in the first time. All this time, he doesn’t seem upset in whatever decision he’s been making, so maybe he just wants to live the single life and fool around a bit. I don’t know, which means I’m reading too much into this song. It’s no “You’re So Vain”. However, this is absolutely his best single to date. From the harmonically on-point background vocalists to Cardle’s sweet (though sometimes strained) delivery and the solid group in his backing band, it’s an enjoyable whodunit of sorts. “Anyone” gets a single release in the U.K. on December 31. Don’t except this one to go soaring up the charts as it is an indie release, but if you’re looking for a quality single with a little bit of a punch, this may be the right choice before you starting looking for a similar track by “anyone else”. –AFS
Buy “Anyone Else” on AmazonMP3 (U.K. only.)