Comebacks for pop groups often end in tears (Atomic Kitten, Liberty X and most other bands on ‘The Big Reunion’ in the UK anyone?) but when I heard that All Saints were giving the pop world another go in 2016, I was excited. Turns out I had good reason to be.
All Saints (as far as girl bands go) were always seen as the “cooler” version of The Spice Girls with tight harmonies, a more urban sound and a real focus on the music.
Early albums produced some of the best pop gems out there with songs like ‘Black Coffee’, ‘Never Ever’, ‘War Of Nerves’ and of course ‘Pure Shores’ gracing their first two albums.
When they reformed in 2006, ‘Studio One’ ended up being a bit of a dud with some rather unfinished songs on it. However one song had me convinced they still had greatness in them (check out closing track ‘Fundamental’ to see what I mean).
‘Red Flag’ takes us back to what would have been a great follow up to ‘Saints & Sinners’, with stunning harmonies, great pop sensibility and the original sparkle that made All Saints so popular. Under their original label (London Records), this set is well balanced and reminds me what good pop music sounds like.
Lead single ‘One Strike’ is a fitting debut from the ladies of All Saints but it’s on tracks like ‘One Woman Man’, ‘This Is A War’ (their second single) and ‘Puppet On A String’ where their vocals and harmonies truly shine. They’ve also included a couple of beautiful ballads; in particular ‘Pieces’ is a must listen and a great closer to the album.
With Shaznay on lead writing duty there are bound to be a couple clunkers included (‘Chick Fit’ anyone?).
I was initially excited at a track called ‘Ratchet Behaviour’, but it totally misses the mark. ‘Make Me Love U’ is also a bit underwhelming but Melanie Blatt saves the day on her collaboration with Sacha Scarbek (Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, James Blunt) ‘Who Hurt Who’.
Overall this is the way to return to the pop music world and while it hasn’t set the charts alight down under, its top five placing in the UK is well deserved.
Little Mix may be more popular at the moment, but All Saints’ ‘Red Flag’ walks around them in circles.
VERDICT : 4/5
MUST LISTEN :One Woman Man, This Is A War, Who Hurt Who, Fear, Pieces.