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 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
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.
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
7. We Could Have It All
8. Conversation's Over
9. In The Middle
10. Too Lost In You
11. Nasty Ghetto