White Light, the first studio album from The Corrs since 2005, is, to borrow a phrase from The Simpsons, a perfectly cromulent album. The first family of Celtic-infused pop could have used the time off to reinvent themselves and embiggen their repertoire. They could have modernized their sound. They could have experimented with different genres. Heck, they could have let violinist and background singer Sharon sing a few songs (during the last decade, both she and lead singer Andrea launched solo careers, and Sharon outsold her).
Instead, they decided to stick with the same tried-and-true formula that has made all of their previous albums multi-platinum hit machines. Everyone assumes their usual roles: Andrea sings, Sharon plays violin and sings background vocals, Caroline plays drums and sings background vocals, and Jim plays a variety of instruments including guitar and keyboard.
As for the album, it’s standard Corrs fare. They have their radio friendly singles (“Bring on the Night,” “I Do What I Like”), emotional ballads (“Kiss of Life,” “Catch Me When I Fall”), piano-driven mid-tempo songs (“Strange Romance,” “Ellis Island”) and the obligatory instrumental (“Gerry’s Reel”). “Kiss of Life,” in particular, is a beautiful song that sounds a lot like “Runaway.” And to prove that they’ve been paying attention to the pop music scene over the last few years, they have a song that sounds like it could have been written by Max Martin (“Unconditional”, which sounds a lot like “Style,” by Taylor Swift) and one based around the modern folk rock “hey!” (“Stay”).
Otherwise, The Corrs don’t do anything on White Light that they haven’t already done (and done better) on previous albums. And really, why should they? The formula is the formula for a reason, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – after all, it’s worked for The Corrs ever since their debut album in 1995. Since then, the changes in the band’s sound have been incremental. For instance, they de-emphasized the traditional Celtic elements for 2000’s In Blue and 2004’s Borrowed Heaven before going back-to-basics with “Home,” their last studio release before White Light.
There’s nothing wrong with being a formulaic band – especially if it’s a good formula, and The Corrs’s formula is first-rate. In fact, one theory as to why Andrea failed as a solo star while Sharon did better was because Andrea veered too far away from the Corrs Formula while Sharon did not. When it comes to sticking with the system, the Corrs are like AC/DC – only with smooth, tight harmonies, Celtic-inspired traditional musical elements and PG-rated lyrics instead of loud guitars, groovy drums and ribald tales of loose women and big weapons (literal and metaphorical).
On White Light, not only is the system intact but it seems like they’ve stepped out of a time machine in order to record an album that could very well have been released in 2005 instead of 2015 (the Max Martin and Lumineers-style songs notwithstanding). The harmonies between Andrea, Sharon and Caroline are still as tight ever and Andrea’s voice is as exuberant as its always been (albeit with more frequent hiccups when singing live). The Corrs have always known how to craft great pop songs full of catchy hooks and sweet melodies, so more is always welcome. They even look just like they did in 2005. Good genetics, indeed.
Plus, it’s reassuring to know that, no matter how much things change, some things stay the same. For those who are sick of today’s overproduced, manufactured, Autotuned, pop-song-by-committee approach, White Light is a throwback to a bygone era when pop stars could actually control their own careers. Ultimately, as the Irish Times opined, the record won’t win them any new fans. However, it’s also a fine album that will make longtime fans happy after ten long years of silence.
And hey, it’s not like we expected them to reinvent themselves as art-rockers by doing a cover of “White Light/White Heat” or something.