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Wednesday 08 April 2009

Review: Girls Aloud's Out Of Control

Posted in: Music
By Andrew Grear - 26th December 2008

Despite Girls Aloud only releasing three singles in New Zealand, we gay guys have a knack for sniffing out catchy and camp pop music, so is it OK to assume that you all know who they are?

If not, then may I direct you to YouTube for a brief history lesson covering their finest moments, starting at Sound Of The Underground, moving on to Biology, working your way through Call The Shots and then onto their latest single (and first from their new album) The Promise.

The little reality TV girlband that could are now on their fifth studio album and are showing no signs of slowing down or of their music becoming stale. If you know anything about Girls Aloud, you'll probably know that there is one undoubtably good reason behind this: Xenomania, who have written and produced nearly all of Girls Aloud's music over the last six years.

So the album kicks off with The Promise which is a fantastic piece that cribs from the 60's, taking a leaf out the big book of Amy Winehouse (without the drugs) and is a nice showcase for each of the girls individually (try and pick who is singing what on their first album, damned near impossible on some tracks).

The Loving Kind, their next single which was co-written by The Pet Shop Boys feels at first like a blatant re-tread of Call The Shots territory, however is a much more melancholic track, and quite frankly, any familiar feelings can be forgiven as it's just so damn good! If you (heaven forbid) didn't like either song, then there is bad news, as several songs on the album fall firmly into this electro-"ballad but not a ballad" camp.

Turn To Stone has a sublime chorus that floats on top of busy, quasi-futuristic backing track. Untouchable, running at nearly 7 minutes works....but possibly not as well as the girls were hoping; similarly, Fix Me Up, while not being bad, doesn't stand out as overly fantastic. Despite the heavily vocordered intro starting the song with "oh sex me up, cos i'm feeling like I want ya", the song, nor the girls sound particularly sexy and it falls slightly flat.

However, where on many albums things would be winding down into some forgettable filler, three of the album's finest moments come right at the end. Miss You Bow Wow is Xenomania production at it's best, and is like a non-stop string of choruses strung together in four minutes of pop perfection with some fantastic lines ("I remember living that dream, twenty minutes in the hotel bar, then I slip into your girlfriends jeans"). Revolution In The Head contains dancehall elements with a head-bobbing, hand-clapping beat that is hard to ignore. Live in The Country has been described by several websites as drum-and-bass… but considering that I'm still singing along to S Club 7 and know the dance moves to most of Steps catalogue, I am unable to confirm nor deny that, all I know is that it's fantastic with trade-mark bonkers lyrics (“I want the ducks and a lake and a family portrait, a pipe and a dog at my feet, I want a stall at the fete selling strawberry shortcake and walls that are very discrete”) and closes with a variety of barnyard noises (how many other pop songs finish with a baa-ing sheep?).

All in all, Out Of Control is another fantastic effort from Britain's favourite girl-band, the only major downside is it hasn't been released in New Zealand, but my advice is fuck the cost, import it, you won't be disappointed!

Andrew Grear - 26th December 2008