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Sugababes - Three


Review: Jack Foley

GIRL pop bands don't come much more alluring than the Sugababes at the moment - and we're not just talking about looks.

Keisha Buchanan, Mutya Buena and Heidi Range have consistently demonstrated an ability to perform songs which cross musical boundaries, making their classification as pure pop divas a little wide of the mark.

The turning point was 2002's hopelessly successful Angels With Dirty Faces long-player, which spawned the singles Freak Like Me, Round Round and Stronger.

Freak Like Me, especially, was an excellent example of the way in which the girls' catchy pop melodies fused with different musical styles and wound up on the playlists of alternative stations such as Xfm.

And while nothing on Three really comes as close to the indie crossover likes of that Richard X makeover, the allure is still as strong as ever, for not since the All Saints has a group of women seemed so worth listening to.

Current number one single, Hole In My Head, which also kicks off the album, is a classic case in point.

It is a classic mixture of sweetness and toughness, meshing some suitably sassy R'n'B vocal interplay and a genuinely catchy hook with the more traditional pop melodies, making it easy to like, even if only in a superficial way.

The album consistently performs at its best when mixing the moods, and only occasionally sounds dull when the sweetness takes over.

Hence, tracks such as the dirty beat laden Nasty Ghetto, or the fesity second track, Whatever Makes You Happy, come over as the type of records that even the most pop-hating listener might confess to enjoying.

While Situation's Heavy, with its varying guitar loops running divertingly throughout, or Million Different Ways, with its bhangra flavas, continue the tradition of flirting with other genres, sounding far fresher than the usual batch of manufactured pop pap from this type of band.

The girls only really let themselves down during the more ballad-driven moments, such as the fairly routine, piano-led Buster, or Sometimes, the type of ballad which comes over as an awkward mix of Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys, without ever really cutting it as either.

Third track, Caught in a Moment, falls into the same trap, and sounds pretty bland as a result, although the hopeless romantics among the teenie-bopping members of the fanbase will, no doubt, be suckers for its 'charms'.

But of the 14 tracks, there are far more hits than misses, making this that rare type of album which has almost universal appeal - that is to say, the guys shouldn't mind putting it on for the girls.

Let's just hope that rumours of band fallouts, as perpetuated by the tabloids, don't bring about the premature demise of the Sugababes, for time in their company is pretty God darn sweet, even if they'd give you attitude for daring to suggest it.

Three really is a magic number.

Track listing:
1. Hole In The Head
2. Whatever Makes You Happy (UK Album Version)
3. Caught In A Moment
4. Situation's Heavy
5. Million Different Ways
6. Twisted
7. We Could Have It All
8. Conversation's Over
9. In The Middle
10. Too Lost In You
11. Nasty Ghetto
12. Buster
13. Sometimes
14. Maya

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