Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tangled Up - Girls Aloud

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Well you know me. Girls Aloud happen to be brilliant. And as the bloke from The Guardian said the other day, "people who don't like Girls Aloud are like people who say they hate The Beatles; they're either posturing or they're an idiot. Either way, you should pay them no mind."


Still as it's Girls Aloud, I'm going to crack out the "once in a blue moon" track by track review of the new album Tangled Up.

1. Call the Shots
It symptomatic of how great the Girls Aloud "non-cover version" singles are that this is seen by some as a disappointment. It's not really a ballad as such, but is still the best ballad they've ever done which, admittedly isn't saying much. But then liking Girls Aloud for their balladry is like liking the Beatles because of Ringo Starr. In the final analysis it's just too "normal" to be a great Girls Aloud tune.

2. Close To Love
This is another one that is slightly too normal to be classic Girls Aloud. The best Girls Aloud tracks sound like they really couldn't be by anyone else. This is not one of those.

3. Sexy! No No No
I seemed to be in the minority with this one, but I didn't really like this. As a single it was adventurous, but was missing that vital thing. A great chorus. It's not bad (and is better than 95% of the last Sugababes album) but "not bad" doesn't really cut the mustard in terms of the Girls Aloud back catalogue.

4. Girl Overboard
Ok so this doesn't have the manic genius of, say, Biology, but it's a bloody brilliant tune, even if it does scream out "mid 1990's dance tune". One listen is all it takes for the "Girl overboard, I thought I had it but I tumbled" chorus to lodge in your brain. A stomping big gay anthem if ever I've heard one.

5. Can't Speak French
There's a story in this one. Perhaps Xenomania were stood in Subway City on that fateful day I tried to chat up a French girl whilst some Michael Jackson classic was pumping over the PA system. "I Can't Speak French, so I'll let the funky music do the talking" seems pretty appropriate for that night of my life. History will show I failed on that particular occasion, but who knows perhaps she's sat in a Paris Café listening to this song on her I-Pod thinking back to that same night. Anyway, I don't think you came here to listen to my life story so back onto the actual song. It's one of those schizophrenic ones which doesn't really seem to know what it's wanting to be. It's good and the kind of thing that only Girls Aloud do, and whilst it might not convince in the way that some of their tracks of this type do, it's still very good.

6. Black Jacks
Oh, we're really getting somewhere now. This is a retro sounding track (like something Candie Payne would do) right from the opening drum beats. "Come and get stuck in" might be one of their finest moments ever. In all seriousness, if someone like the Kaiser Chiefs or Franz Ferdinand did this people would be hailing it as an all-time classic. But I'm not so shallow that a "cool" band has to do it for me to say this. This is wonderful,

7. Control Of The Knife
This is one of those songs that on first listen seems a little bit of fluff, but it's another one of those that just lodges itself in your brain. It's a little bit reggae (in the way that some of Gwen Stefani's stuff could be called reggae) and when they sing "you got me hook, line and sinker" that pretty much sums up the appeal of this song. Insistent beats matched to a very catchy tune. A definite winner.

8. Fling
"Its just a bit of ding-a-ling baby, don't want relationships, so swing baby, swing baby." I think that might get Dave a bit hot under the collar. Whilst this once again proves that Nadine shouldn't attempt to rap there is no denying it's power. My only downside about this one is that parts of the guitar backing sound depressingly close to the worst song ever (which as you should all know is that god awful I Like The Way You Move).

9. What You Crying For
Well I bet you never thought that GA would go drum'n'bass? Not particularly my cup of tea, but not bad.

10. I'm Falling
We're continuing the techno style beats here, but to much better effect than on the previous track. My only real criticism is the relatively weak chorus.

11. Damn
It's like someone has unearthed a previously unreleased outtake from the movie Grease. I can see the Arctic Monkeys doing this one really well you know. It's got that insistent, nagging groovy guitar beat that is their trademark.

12. Crocodile Tears
So we finish off with the closest thing to a ballad on the album. For some reason I can see them hanging around in a Western town in the video to this one. If they did a video for this one. It's very good.

So overall? Well it's clear to see that in it's first flush of youth it's no Chemistry, but then that was one of the classic pop albums of the 21st Century so far. No really.

To put things into perspective, it's easily a "four star" album and has a smattering of "five star" tracks. It's also convincingly better than the recent effort by the Sugababes (their closest "contemporaries" I suppose). For the most part it's also the kind of thing that only Girls Aloud could give us (let's face it, Xenomania save their best stuff for the Girls).

No covers, no real soppy ballads...what more could you ask for from a Girls Aloud album?

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