UK trio Sugababes have always been the girl group that it was kinda cool to like – from their debut single ‘Overload’ and their original line up of Keisha, Mutya and Siobhan, the group always seemed a little too forward thinking in their pOp sensibilities to ever succeed beyond the one album. But succeed they have – thrived even, and even after two record labels, five members, six albums and 23 consecutive top 40 hits in their homeland, the Sugababes remain as relevant, as strong and as cutting edge as they ever have. The group’s sixth album ‘Catfights And Spotlights’ was released recently in the UK and will hit the stores in Australia on Saturday November 22. First single ‘Girls’ has polarised many – fans and critics not knowing whether to love it or loathe it. With it’s stabs of trumpet, radio-friendly beat, mid-tempo groove and a chorus full of affirmation for the fairer sex, if it doesn’t find a home on the Mix network throughout the country, there’s something completely wrong with their programmers. Second single ‘No Can Do’ borrows it’s beats from Motown classics like The Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’ and is fresh, fun and feel-good, a perfect soundtrack for a late summer drive down the coast. ‘You On A Good Day’ is similarly ripped straight from that tried and true Motown sound – and ‘Hanging On A Star’ also nods it’s hat to the Motown era, whilst upping the tempo. ‘Unbreakable Heart’ is a Max Martin-penned track that starts off as a piano ballad, before a sweet mid-tempo beat kicks in, leading to the track’s fantastic chorus – he sure knows how to write them. ‘Sunday Rain’ is a song of broken hearts and dreams, similarly ‘Every Broken Heart’, and the album concludes with a series of ballads (including a live and acoustic version of previous single ‘About You Now’, proving beyond doubt that the girls can indeed sing).
But the album just feels a little rushed and disconnected to us – the first four tracks are all about Motown-soul, the next four are all Robyn-esque nu-pOp, and the rest are a variety of generic pOp and ballads. There’s some good pOp to be found amongst the 14 tracks here, don’t get us wrong, but as a body of work, it’s all just a little too disjointed and underprepared to be a truly spectacular Sugababes album.
Sugababes’ ‘Catfights And Spotlights’ is released in Australia on November 22.