Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dignity - Hilary Duff

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I don't mind Hilary Duff. Granted, I would never want to go as far as sit through one of her films but as a bubblegum pop princess (and yes, I nicked that description from the Guardian) she had her merits. Granted those merits had never gone as far as producing, or perhaps the right word should be "fronting", a knock out album but her best moments were ripe for a "collection".

So it was with some trepidation that I heard tales of her going "electro". It sounds like it should be my kind of thing (being the electro pop tart that I am) but is it really a wise move? As it turns out, artistically at least, it is. Not least because the over-sentimental and cloying ballads that spoiled great swathes of her previous albums are absolutely nowhere to be seen.

Things start off decently enough with Stranger, but things really kick into life with the title track. A thinly-veiled attack on the Hollywood party girls ("you'd show up to the opening of an envelope"..."it's not news you've got a new bag") it may be, but it manages the task a whole lot more successfully that Pink's Stupid Girls ever did. It's also a killer tune to boot. You can make up your own mind about who are the targets (for my money you have to look no further than Nicole Ritchie - who's knocking off that Good Charlotte fella now I think- and Duff's long-term rival Lindsay Lohan).

Gypsy Woman is much easier to pin down as a knock on Nicole Ritchie and is just as fantastic as the title track. Other essential, and I do mean essential, cuts include No Work, No Play, with its positively addictive drum beat, and Danger, which seems to address her stalker problems (we're talking "people have been sent to jail" levels here) to another addictive beat.

Of course it's not all as good, but a lot of it is surprisingly, and nagglingly, memorable. Quite what it will do for her is another matter indeed. There comes a time when every teen star has to strike out and there is no doubt that the time had come for Duff to take that step. She's certainly come up with something fresh and, more importantly, something quite good indeed. Whether fans of the old stuff will follow her on the journey is uncertain, but it would be their loss if they didn't.

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