A great improvement on their debut, What Will The Neighbours Say?
actually goes further than that to become, shockingly enough, one of the best pop albums of the 21st century.
Or maybe it's not so shocking. Despite coming out of a reality TV show, their singles have been consistently excellent enough to make them the only real rivals to the Sugababes as Britain's best pure pop band. And singles are here in force, of course - they practically line up in single file to kick off the album, Joshua Tree
-style. "The Show", "I'll Stand By You" (a Pretenders
cover), "Jump" (another cover, this time from The Pointers Sisters
), and "Wake Me Up" are all great songs. But the jewel in the crown, undoubtedly, is "Love Machine". Bouncy, slick, and catchy as all hell, it could serve as a lesson to all aspiring pop songwriters.
It's a testament to the strength of the material here that once the singles are out of the way, the quality doesn't really drop. "Deadlines & Diets" is actually pretty good as it goes, and could have been a single too. "Big Brother" just about succeeds too, despite a slightly dodgy lyrical concept. Speaking of lyrics, "Here We Go" (written by Lene from Aqua
, fact fans!) is certainly ear-catching. 'I don't do sex, but I do do second base'. Yes please!
By dropping the club conceits and streamlining their sound, Girls Aloud have managed to craft an album here that won't just please their intended audience. I have little doubt I'm the only serious music lover who's been very impressed with this record. And rightly so - the pop album is in a sorry state, and we need records like this - fun, sexy, devoid of filler, melodic, easy on the ear - more than ever.