Girls Aloud take their mockabilly strut a little too fast, there’s a lockstep urgency to the rhythm that makes the fun more frantic by giving you the feeling they’re just a trip away from falling in a heap of tangled strings. They’ve never sounded more like the glossy puppets of Morley myth: I wonder sometimes what they think when Xenomania presents them with something like this. The gap between its electro-skiffle backing and the girls’ breathy big tunes singing is absurd (and rather charming) – don’t they ever think, “Stop the pop, I want to get off”, sing a Linda Perry love monster rather than more allusive nonsense? Actually I hope they don’t – a record as silly and delightful as “Love Machine” is Evidence A that being in Girls Aloud must be quite the experience after all. 9 (Tom)

From the Katrina & the Waves intro to the chorus ripping “put a little love in your heart” this is nearly perfect and follows the GA principle of making EVEN BETTER POP out of some QUITE GOOD POP ALREADY. The words are beautifully nonsensical as well, interesting gender twist on “love machine” though, a phrase usually associated with the gentlemen (google brings up the miracles, wham!, uriah heep and prince on the first page of “love machine lyrics”) and their mechanical sexiness, rather than the ladies. 10 (Carsmile Steve)

It’s the eighties fifties revival coming back!

If the first Girls Aloud record made them a teenage gang, scowling and despairing and delighting in equal measures, these last two singles are twentysomething. I think it was Stevie Nixed on the Show’s Square Table that talked about the female in-group in Girls Aloud songs, and it’s even stronger here, even more girly. Not just the we “ladies” and the you “fellas”; the hypercute images of gift-wrapped kitty-kats (only turning into tigers when they’ve got to fight back) and love easy as pie, the demand that a girls’ mind be read, that a mutual language be found, the promise not to change you but…, the camp little “what will the neighbours say?”. The modern Feminine Mystique wrapped up in a jaunty, wordy saunter of a song.

And, oh, it saunters, hip-swinging its way out of conventional pop structure with such self-assurance you barely notice. Two separate bridges, one reprimanding, promising, one soft close-vocal alluring. Verses that pretend the other never existed, a different audience and different rhythm and different tune entirely. So natural that you’re pulled along with them, following the off-beat snare-drum shuffle and punchy bass, flirting around the high notes, finally falling in with that chummy guitar and tap-dancing away into the night. 10 (Cis)

Lovely, old-fashioned start – much of it is almost Motowny, which suits me fine, lots of nice hand-clapping stuff, very bouncy and cheerful. It’s a little surprising to sound a bit like Motown with a Motown title (the Miracles had a hit with ‘Love Machine’) and still not really evoke that previous song. Their singing seems to be improving gradually, perhaps simply in confidence, but that’s enough, as they are more than decent singers when they believe it – there are several very pleasing vocal moments here. A delightful single, their best since No Good Advice – when was the last time Britain had a genuine pop group making a string of records this good? All Saints? The Spice Girls? Take That? 9 (Martin Skidmore)

The pub is one of the best places in the world for conversation. Music gets talked about regularly and I’ll normally get involved and mention band X from Japan or wherever. Then something pops onto the jukebox and Ill make a passing comment on it and talk moves on to pop music. All my credibility seems to go out of the widow at this point. On Girls Aloud the most I normally get out of my friends is “That Cheryl’s fit though” and a handful of jibes. Not that it bothers me because I am always totally honest. I really do believe that they are one of the best pop bands around.

So to Love Machine, and all of us internet geeks await with trepidation the day of the leak. Will it live up to previous efforts? Will they continue to surprise? On my first gut feeling listen I hate it. I rush online and spout my disappointment at others. “It’ll grow on you” says a hypothetical Daphne & Celeste fan, but it doesn’t seem to click. I cringe during the verses and that twang country bebop just sounds so…so wrong.

Then slowly over the course of their promotion of the song this week I find myself being drawn to it. My ears prick up when I hear it on the radio. They come on TV and I’m captivated by the girls. (As an aside I love the fact their TV show performance is a re-enactment of the video. Also, how cool is that rat pack band they have dressed as “The Hives”?). Now, I just have to put it on every morning. Then again in the evening. Then perhaps once more at night.

It’s very unlike most of their songs ? it’s so much more fun. There is nothing going on under the surface. They just dance and sing and do all your favorite things. Still, it remains a guilty pleasure and that’s the first time I’ve seen a GA song in that light. So next time I’m in the pub with my friends and this comes on I’ll still be able to say I like it but it’ll be said in a slightly ironic student fashion. 9 (MW_Jimmy)

It’s great witnessing the steam being gathered gust by gust, vapourised drop by drop. At this rate the album will be cracking and perhaps the most burgeoning with ideas and activity since Kish Kash. As usual for GA ‘Love Machine’ reminds you of about a dozen other songs, like strips of plasticine rolled into one multi-coloured whole. More than that though this sounds like their most cheerful effort yet – even Nadine is smiling! Now, what was that about negligee? It’s got more of a B*witched vibe than anything else and the rollicking tempo and skiffly rhythm is retro yet refreshing. 9 (Steve M)

1980’s; Glossy; shoulder pads; polka dots; lipstick; pony tails; ever so slightly robotic. It reminds me of Dynasty and Cyndi Lauper with a touch of the Bangles. Girls Aloud keep making great singles that always seem to bring something new. The drum beat is great! Reality TV’s gift to the world! 9 (Jel)

Bugger skiffle, this is the great lost Huggy Bear single! Rerecord it on a four track and it could sit next to Blowdry or Into The Mission without raising any eyebrows. OK, maybe the lyrics need tweaking, but still they do it more convincingly than Shampoo or Bis ever did.

Since Sound Of the Underground it’s been a truism that GA are a work of genius but, to be honest, it’s been more the narrative – the idea of a really great pop group coming out of Pop Stars, especially that last limping faked series which lost all the thrill of the first and the drama of Pop Idol – and the styling of them as drugged prostitute dolls that kept me interested. SOTU was brilliant, and the Transvision Vamping of No Good Advice kept the momentum, but after Life got Cold and the sub-Rachel Stevens of the Show I was starting to think that they’d burned out.

But from the opening riff this just demolishes that idea. Welding a slice of smart modern dancepop onto a fakeabilly chassis is the best pop idea this year, and the song has easily enough hooks to keep up with the production. Plus they rhyme “squeeze a day”, “negligee” and “neighbours say”. If this isn’t number one I may emigrate. 8 JOKER (Jim Eaton-Terry)

Jangley as all hell, although sadly not a cover of the Wedding Present track: but wouldn’t you love to see GA get their teeth into some of the meaty tracks off of Seamonsters? Well, erm, maybe: but it’s hard to imagine Gedge’s snarling misogyny standing up to the self-proclaimed ‘gift-wrapped kitty cats’. Just as in The Show, you can’t win against these girls: yes, you are supposed to have read my mind, to have known what I really meant, of course I can change my mind, not know what I mean, get it wrong, want all of it and none of it. So classic GA: another song about having your cake and eating it too, in life, in love, and in pop. 8 (alext)

With so many credible “indie” bands packing the shelves of my local record retailers, it seems altogether wrong that procuring a copy of anything ever released by Girls Aloud remains next to impossible. This is, of course, because I am not from the United Kingdom. That cultural distance is indispensable as I listen to this record. As far as I am concerned, Girls Aloud is not a pop culture phenomenon; they produce excellent pop singles, but they haven’t saturated the American press. That the music holds up so well without the alleged stylistic excess so frequently attributed to the genre is a testament to the single’s greatness. Oversinging is a fair criticism, but it never ruins the romp. 8 (Atnevon)

Who in their right mind gift wraps a cat? Its cruel, unnecessary and a terrible example to be setting to our impressionable children. And they say ‘eskimo’ instead of ‘inuit’. I would ask if the girls have ever even seen Blue Peter, but where else would they have heard any skiffle in the past 30 years? What is the world coming to? 8 (Matt D’Cruz)

All about velocity, Girls Aloud, in terms of both tempo and changes of mood. Today it’s Motown- just a template on which they can launch those frisky sugar-coated lyric attacks. And it’s brilliantly memorable and brilliantly disposable. Yet you still can’t dance to it – that role is reserved for the girls themselves, which appeals to the voyeur in all of us. Excellent, bewildering, excellent. These vocals would sound ace on the bootleg too. 8 (Derek Walmsley)

Again i saw the video and again their physical presence distracted me from the Stray Cats Strut slice of genius, Love Machine. Made for a particularly bad dance routine, it still impresses with an insatiable perkiness which yet again seems at odds with who the band are and what they do. Whatever, the Girls Aloud management have realised one thing about the pop sweetshop. Nothing goes out of date, and sometimes the gummi bear favourite of twenty years ago makes a refreshing change.

Now if only they would get on to the Wham! bars… 8 (Pete)

A dune buggy rolls off the Girls Aloud assembly line (as opposed to the Delorean that was “The Show”). Reminds me of those madcap Monkees and their wacky misaventures (appropriate, given the Girls’ origins). Also reminds me that, ready or not, the Indiepop revival is just around the corner. I’m ready. I like this song, even though I fear it could quite possibly spawn a whole new generation of Molly Ringwalds. 7 (Henry Scollard)

Someone slap these lyrics on top of That Damn Jet iPod Song so we can get down to more genius stroking – this fancy-pants digital love backbeat ain’t cuttin’ any sort of condiment. By the way, I appreciate the heads’ up re: the Mars / Venus throwdown. See, I met this woman a couple weeks ago, and thought we hit it off, but I haven’t heard from her since. Total FUBAR, I feared. I was worried that she was cutting off access to her trade routes because of my interpretive etiquette, or my lack of arable assets – it turns out she’s just towing the company line, battening down the foxholes & all that. Roger that, swing out sisters. If anyone needs me, I’ll be here in the MASH mess with some surgical gloves, a bottle of ether, some Grade F meat rations, and a whole case of grape knee-highs. 6 (David Raposa)

Like a one night stand, the attraction can be found in the first few notes. That snappy recalcitrant guitar – it’s a popesque Cheesy
– lures me right into “Love Machine.” But as with the previous singles – so insanely catchy, its energy draining quality could be mistaken for vampirical – there’s never a moment I can really enjoy Girls Aloud. The Rockabilly craziness blurs the Geri Halliwell style singing. It’s just too much. The song is never about the Other, only about those kitty cats feeding themselves. Alas, I can’t feed the “Love Machine.” 6 (Stevie Nixed)

As I wake up and attempt to brush my teeth, the DJ on BBC1 curls his voice through the static of my world band radio/scanner: “…And that was ‘Love Machine’ by Girls Aloud, another smash hit for them! It sounds like rockabilly born on a different cloud!”

(For some reason, my radio cuts out and the scanner picks up a cell phone conversation between Girls Aloud and their songwriting team)

Girls Aloud: Baby, you’re a rich man! We just saw the charts today. The love machine works!
ToS (sounding very fulfilled): Ah girls, thanks. How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
GA: It is some kind of miracle. Let us thank Mother Superior!
ToS: Don’t jump the gun now. A lot of people want their share of mechanical royalties, so I took the liberty of hiding our profits for the song in a secret location. Meet me at the London Zoo in two hours. I’ll be waiting in the VIP area behind the hippos. Look for a man that resembles Johnny Marr, and is holding a large brown bag.
GA: The zoo! What a thing to do! Are girls allowed in this VIP area?
ToS: Oh yes. And no press is allowed in there either.
GA: White lies! White lies! How often have you been there?
ToS: Often enough to know that it is safe for us. Just like our songs, there is no trace of humanity behind a group of hippos.
GA: But we think hippos are cute.
ToS: Yes, so does the public! I initially saw something in these hippos, and baby, I’m currently a rich man.
GA: This is getting confusing. What did you see when you were there?
ToS (in a voice dripping with sassy apathy): Nothing that doesn?t show all over our faces, in our words, and on our records.

(click) 4 (Michael Wells)

Getting your pop in my honky tonk neither pleases nor amuses. Something tbout this totally rubs me wrong, in an 80’s new wave sorta way. Can’t really put my finger on it. I’m surprised because everything else I’ve heard by Girls Aloud has really pressed ALL of my buttons but this faux twangy country sound is downright repellant. This is maybe the first track you’ve sent me that I’d change the channel to avoid. At best, this could be a halfway decent TV show theme, but only if it were about thirty seconds long. 3 (Forksclovetofu)