Columbia – 2002 – 57 minutes

As thousands of teenage girls waited with baited breath for the arrival of A1's new album, the words 'Make It Good' couldn't be more apt. Of late, the A1 lads have floated into the lake of newly mature sounding boybands where most seem to drown.

'Make It Good' reads like a Mills and Boon, telling a story of heartbreak, frustration, tears and all that over-dramatic stuff, with tracks entitled 'Crazy For Leaving You', 'If I Can't Have You' and 'One Last Song'. Lead vocalist Ben makes it all the more powerful and expressive with his voice consistently sounding like he's on the verge of tears, or perhaps, his denims are a tad tight...

Opener 'Caught In The Middle' was a huge chart success, grabbing both public and critical attention and paving the way towards credible pop for the A1 lads, but the album fails in its attempt to push beyond the boundaries of boy-band territory.

Fourteen tracks only serve to satisfy the 'size does matter' fans. The guitar and piano-driven sound of the majority of the album convinces of their ability to use instruments, but the result is that each track ends up sounding relatively similar.

'Do You Remember' features some incredibly annoying whistling, while the over-emotional 'One Last Song' feels more like a four-minute scene from 'Dawson's Creek'. Stand-out tracks like 'This Ain't What Love Is About' are pushed towards the top-end of the album. If only they could have matched 'Caught In The Middle' and the catchy title track with another ten or so of similar quality, this album would be worthy of a prime shelf-position for a good few months.

A1? More like C1, to use a Leaving Cert analogy – but it's still a good grade.

David Byrne

Tracklisting: Caught In The Middle – Make It Good – Here Comes The Rain – When I'm Missing You – This Aint What Love Is About – Crazy For Leaving You – Learn To Fly – Isn't It Cheap – If I Can't Have You – Make It Through The Night – Cherish This Love – Do You Remember – One Last Song – Let It Out