I was playing this record quite a lot while I put the final edits on my “Decade In Pop” piece for Pitchfork: now I wish I’d mentioned it. It’s producer Rich Harrison’s pet girlband project, and for once that patronising double-edge on the word “pet” seems sadly appropriate: none of the (meagre) hype I’ve seen around Richgirl even mentions the performers, and on this single the production’s firmly the star. The song builds on blurs of keyboard and strings with a droning, advancing quality – production like an army on the march. This supertense churn catches an ambiguity in the track – are the singers just letting their hair down, or is betrayal in the air? The brooding effect is rather spoiled by Harrison’s jumping in to say “wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle” but he can’t ruin a striking track.

It’s the kind of record, in fact, that’s wholly in the adventurous spirit of early-decade chart-R&B; the sort of track critics used to fete. Some still do – I heard about this from Alex Macpherson, probably the most reliable guide I know to the sonics and attitude of modern R&B – but mostly experiments like this go unnoticed. Why? After all, if you’d told me back then about a track that made me think in places of Charlemagne Palestine working with Beyonce I’d have almost fainted.

Partly it’s that awkward origin and setup – the whole vanity project air that makes the gender politics of production-led R&B just that little bit too obvious. Partly though it’s that a lot of people just stopped paying attention: after all, if a 2009 single reminds me so strongly of 2002 that’s a pretty good case against it being “innovative”, right? But this I think points up one of the real weaknesses in the idea of lauding early-00s R&B (and hip-hop, and pop) in these terms. The experiments, left-turns, unusual sources, crazy tricks, minimalism, maximalism and whatever else of those records weren’t meant to be taken simply as “innovations”: they were meant to be taken as hooks.