I have purposely avoided a) downloads b) reviews of this record, so my apologies to anyone whose observations I have unconsciously bitten. Here we go, with my as-it-happens write-up of the new Girls Aloud album.
Intro: Gone in a flash, sets the tone for a fast, trashy record.
Models: Something faintly Sleeper-ish, Transvision Vamp-ish about it, despite the electro overtones, very choppy, speedy, tacky, aggressively fun. You’ll have to be in the right mood for it.
Biology: Becoming my favourite single of the year, current favourite chunk: the “closer closer” bit.
Wild Horses: C&W overtones, Xeno-nonsense lyrics, now this is sounding like the grown-up Daphne And Celeste album. Some kind of science experiment to see how overstuffed a song can be with hips and still hang together? Anyway I’m lovin this one.
See The Day: OH NO!!!!!!! Worse by some distance than “I’ll Stand By You”, a weak song hugely overdone and aurely the only thing on here you can imagine S.Cowell really approving of.
Watch Me Go: SKA INFLUENCE! Saucy lyrics midly undermined by toffee-chewing lead vocal. And then YES!! A GA rap, about stripper vicars, so if this IS a Britpop album this must be Mansun.
Waiting: More Britpop ‘guitar’ ‘strut’, OK make that Stray Cat Strut, a slightly more downbeat and less exciting sequel to “Love Machine”, still pretty good but no highlight. Goes on longer than its hook deserves.
Whole Lotta History: The frustrating thing about GA’s Xmo cover ballads isn’t “oh god it’s a ballad”, only fools “don’t like ballads” after all. It’s that their writers are really good at doing pop ballads – delicate, touching songs with great choruses that will end up glued to my headphones when I’m feeling maudlin coming home after a night on Binge Drink Britain’s tiles.
Long Hot Summer: Well-placed on the album, though still GA’s weakest ‘good’ single, some really nice little blips and bleeps behind the pre-chorus though and the coda is satisfying. It is probably the most dancefloor-ready thing here so far: this is not a bangin’ album.
Swinging London Town: Very odd and I’m not sure if it totally works, again on the “if it’s a Britpop album” tip with a Pulp comparison, the weird spoken-word parts of Wicker Man or Sheffield Sex City springing to mind, undermining – but maybe creatively – the boshin electro bits.
It’s Magic: Not a Pilot cover sadly. I’m enjoying this but not loving it, a little too diffuse to make an impact though some good “synthwork” I guess. Maybe I’m just getting a little knackered by the effort of listening to a whole album, it’s been months!
No Regrets: Back in balladland, this isn’t anywhere near as poor as “See The Day” but is actually a bit under-produced, can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a stark drum-pad confessional or something more Manilow and falls between two stools.
Racey Lacey: A song that will hugely annoy many people, sounding as it does like Geri Halliwell doing Great Escape era Blur.
Overall: Mildly disappointing, even though there’s nothing dreadful apart from “See The Day” it feels like a weaker record than Neighbours, busier but less surprising and charming. “Biology” and “Wild Horses” total winners though.