In January 2005, a hastily announced press conference was thrown together in a Central London office, and teenage hearts around the country shattered simultaneously – Busted, who were the biggest pop band in the UK at the time, had announced their split with Charlie Simpson.
Simpson left to focus on his new and then relatively unknown post-hardcore outfit Fightstar full-time, a project which was reportedly causing some tension between him and the other two members of the band.
What followed were ten years of rumours, “Will they, or won’t they?” moments, the formation and split of Son Of Dork, a stint amalgamating with McFly to create the super group McBusted, and even a suggestion of a reality TV show similar to the likes of The X Factor to find Simpson‘s replacement.
Finally, in 2015, Busted announced their return along with Simpson‘s with a sold out arena tour, and the year after brought a new album, ‘Night Driver’. The record that fans had waited almost twelve years for was heavily 80s ridden and synth-pop galore. This wasn’t a bad thing, and not what fans expected or necessarily wanted, but the sonic diversion polarised some. Now, the trio are here again with their fourth record, ‘Half Way There’, and the lads might feel like they have a little something to prove.
Opening with the nostalgia drenched ‘Nineties’, it’s obvious they’ve returned to doing what they do best: writing solid pop-rock tunes. The electronica vibe from the last LP still lingers, but as soon as the crunching guitars chime in, it’s quite apparent that this is a whole different beast altogether. Following straight into ‘Reunion’, another number tailored toward hindsight, the pop-punk anthem is trademark Busted.
Written by James Bourne over eight years ago, ‘What Happened To Your Band’ is a track based on his experiences of being recognised post-Busted. Though performed with his previous band, Son Of Dork, being included on McBusted‘s 2014 self-titled debut record, and musically being vaguely different to its former versions, its inclusion is still a bit of a cop out.
‘Shipwrecked In Atlantis’ is a tongue-in-cheek ensemble that is reminiscent of ‘Take Off Your Pants And Jacket’ era Blink-182. It’s light-hearted, a load of fun, and by far the best track on the record. It’s everything that made the band special in the first place – just three guys having fun and playing pop-rock hits.
Other highlights on the record include the radio-friendly and by extension aptly-titled ‘Radio’, the acoustic and simple yet effective ‘All My Friends’, and the poignant album closer, ‘It Happens’, which is basically a recap of the band’s history and sub-sequential future.
‘Half Way There’ is the record that every Busted fan has been waiting 14 years for. All the hooks, pop-punk guitar riffs, and massive choruses that built the band in the early 2000s are displayed here in all their glory. While there are a few moments in the latter half that don’t quite hit the mark, and admittedly some lyrics are the epitome of cheese, there’s more than enough quality throughout.
If you were a fan of Busted during their burst into the world back in 2002, this is the album for you. Even if you weren’t, there are more slick hooks here than you could shake a stick at.