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Girls Aloud - Out of Control

Girls Aloud, Out of Control

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

NO MATTER what you might think of Girls Aloud, you can’t say they don’t at least try to be inventive. For sure, their singles tend to conform to easy pop sensibilities, but their albums have become progressively more inventive, if not entirely successful.

Out Of Control, their latest, dabbles with drum n bass, the Sixties, reggae and even ’80s electro synths, along with the usual breezy pop. But while it still struggles to be entirely successful, at least it’s doing something different in places.

Admittedly, lead single The Promise didn’t offer too many signs of hope. Combining a Sixties sound with Spector-styled pop beats and melodies, it was a fairly indifferent offering from them that took a pretty easy route to success.

But there’s more sassiness and endeavour on the track that immediately follows it – The Loving Kind, a collaboration with The Pet Shop Boys, which takes the best elements of both outfits and combines them well. The synth background is bright, breezy and evocative of the Pet Shop Boys’ ’80s heyday, while the vocals are lush, melodic and reminiscent even of Kylie.

Rolling Back The Rivers Of Time is a little less endearing, despite the best efforts of a snappy backbeat and some endearing synths, but Love Is The Key begins with a holy chorus, before careering into a foot-stomping, finger-clicking good beat that is another of the album highlights. It’s effortless energy is instantly appealing, while the vocals contain the same sort of sassiness that’s usually reserved for the likes of Sugababes.

The synths on Turn To Stone are also pretty good, while Untouchable even yields pleasant reminders of Saint Etienne in both its composition and vocals. Neither song is particularly groundbreaking, but given some of the tat that comes from all girl bands, early Girls Aloud included, this is a marked improvement and a maturer, more full-bodied sound that’s certainly to be encouraged.

Fix Me Up relies a little too heavily on vocoder heavy vocals and a Prince-style instrumentation. It’s ambitious in the Girls Aloud scheme of things, but it’s not one of the more successful offerings – likewise, the drum ‘n’ bass themed In The Country (which hints of attempting to jump on the R’n‘B revival bandwagon), or the reggae styled Revolution In The Head.

We Wanna Party is a largely forgettable final offering, but Miss You Bow Wow contains a likeable vibe and energy in spite of some appalling lyrics and the darker synths of Love Is Pain constitutes another firm highlight that underlines their continued maturity.

Production values come, once again, courtesy of long-term collaborators Xenomania, which adds the extra polish and sheen that’s been present for a couple of albums now. But in the final analysis, this is a much better album that we have come to expect from the girls… and, in places, a strong listen.

Download picks: Love Is Pain, Turn To Stone, Untouchable, The Loving Kind, Love Is The Key

Track listing:

  1. The Promise
  2. The Loving Kind
  3. Rolling Back The Rivers In Time
  4. Love Is The Key
  5. Turn to Stone
  6. Untouchable
  7. Fix Me Up
  8. Love Is Pain
  9. Miss You Bow Wow
  10. Revolution In The Head
  11. Live In The Country
  12. We Wanna Party