A matey vocal matched with a jaunty tune,”Hold Me Close” is clumsily eager to please. It claps me hard on the back and makes me splutter, its bogus bonhomie too loud and too close. Essex’ singing on this is such a put-on: sure, all pop singers act but few of them this badly and baroquely, with such deliberated roughness. An out-take from Oliver fifteen years late, or an echo of “Parklife” two decades early? Either way, I’m allergic.

Score: 2

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