BMG Records - 2003 - 45 minutes

Heartbreak, lost loves and cheesy cover versions. It's all in a day's work for Westlife. By any other standards the content of 'Turnaround' might be considered indistinguishable from the many boybands striving for a cut of the market. But make no mistake, Westlife have set themselves apart from the posse.

Based on what has gone before and the staggering longevity of their career, this album is simply the next move in a well-oiled pop machine. With four albums down it initially seems disappointing that 'Turnaround' is very much more of the same, a backwards move even, considering that there is no writing input from the lads. But the band's popularity has never hinged on originality and few would blame Westlife for adopting an 'if it ain't broke, then don't fix it' attitude. What they do, they do well and in that respect there isn't anything spared here.

With initial releases storming up the charts in record time, 'Turnaround' has already proved it's worth and future chart success seems a certainty. While ballads like 'When A Woman Loves A Man' are in the same successful style that has given Westlife much of their success to date, there are some subtle attempts to break away from purely vocal-based hits, with tracks like the heavily synthesised 'Turn Around' offering a fresh take.

To their credit the cover versions on this album serve to enhance the whole package, in particular 'Mandy' and 'To Be With You', both of which detract little from the originals. Refreshingly, much of the material reveals a grittier side to the band that was never evident before. By finding a formula that was capable of sticking the distance, Westlife have defied the odds by making it to their fifth album. Few would have thought it.

Vocally, 'Turnaround' is faultless. Commercially, you've got to hand it to the lads on a market sewn up.

Linda McGee

Tracklisting: Mandy - Hey Whatever - Heal - Obvious - When A Woman Loves A Man - On My Shoulder - Turn Around - I Did It For You - Thank You - To Be With You - Home - Lost In You - What Do They Know.