Review Summary: The Sugababes deliver the highlight of their career. Everything is in places, except for the inclusion of a bonus track that has nothing to do with the rest of the album and can't even be called a Sugababes song.
The Sugababes are a strange band. Somehow these three female vocalists have managed to produce hit singles that have a bit more depth to them than the average single you’ll find in the charts. Reminder for instance the intelligent use of Gary Numan
’s Tubeway Army single Are friends electric
in Freak like me
from 2002. And who doesn’t (secretly?) know the melody and words to hits like Push the button
or About you now
After the release of the somewhat bland studio album Change
and the subsequent, hugely enjoyable greatest hits compilation Overloaded
, the Sugababes returned to form with Catfights & Spotlights
. Lead single Girls
was once again a great reminder of the fact that the girls can do great, catchy singles with good lead vocals and great harmonies. The rest of the album isn’t quite that catchy, but needs some more spins before you get it. But once it does grab you, it grabs you hard.
After the start with Girls
the album seems to start again, when the girls ask each other if they are ready (of course they are), before You on a good day
kicks in truly. This song is the first of three songs with a similar feel to them, that seems to find its roots in the pop culture from the mid 90’s. But true to Sugababes-style, they somehow feel fresh and modern.
Than the album takes a more adventurous road. Sometimes lyrically, like in Every Heart Broken
. The song tells little tales about 8 lost loves and contains some great tongue-in-cheek lyrics, like:
Boy 4 was filthy rich indeed
He flew a private jet but see
He crashed and burned
There's just no buying me
Last boy was a director on a silver screen
He went and wrote a slasher flick just for me
When he said cut
I took it literally
is a standout track. I can’t quite explain what they did with the track, but the backbone is intriguing. It’s like they recorded a fully instrumented song and then filtered out some of the drum and bass parts. Great song, both vocally and sonically.
The best song on the album, and arguably the best song the Sugababes have ever recorded, is Can we call a truce
. This ballad features great lead vocals by all three girls, fantastic harmonies, and a refrain to die for:
Can we call a truce? We both have our truths
And I just wish this God damn mess...
We could try and play it cool
I don't wanna fight, to lose you
Add to this the fact that the songs contains one of the best vocal performances from Heidi Range (the blond one). I wasn’t too fond of her high pitched voice before I heard this, but what she does here in both timing and the use of her voice is amazing. To put it short: a fantastic song and a great way to end the album.
Too bad the album doesn’t end, because two bonus tracks were added. The first is an acoustic version of About you now
, which shows that the up-tempo original has a good song structure. How else would it still hold as a stripped down ballad. The second bonus track should have never been released. Featuring Taio Cruz, She’s like a star
has nothing to do with the rest of album and doesn’t even feel like a Sugababes song. A bad decision to include it in an otherwise fantastic album.