Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Seventh Time Just As Sweet? : Sugababes "Sweet 7" Album Review
It hasn't been an easy time in the limelight for the Sugababes over the last few months. The sudden removal of founding member Keisha Buchanan from the group suggested all was still not well with a band rapidly becoming better known for their line up changes than their music.
Sweet 7, the latest release was delayed when new girl Jade Ewen had to be drafted in to slap her vocals on top and now we finally have the finished product. And what a product it is. All over the place and weighed down with big budget production, you don't doubt the money that's been thrown at this project. Even before Keisha left the group the band made no secret of how they were working with more big name producers and reinvigorating their sound after the failure of their previous effort Catfights and Spotlights.
While that was a somewhat half baked attempt at soul-pop in the style of Duffy etc it did seem like an attempt to give the Sugababes some semblance of the class and sophistication that marked their earlier output. Sweet 7 does no such thing. The singles preceding the album (all 3 of which have been top ten hits in the UK) are enjoyable and punchy pieces of up-tempo R&B synth pop. But they are hardly earth shattering and feel a tad generic. Get Sexy and Wear My Kiss do the job nicely and will lodge in your head on first listen but don't scale the lofty heights of Round Round or Hole in the Head. About A Girl is a tad better, sure it's your standard Red One produced club jam but it's one of the few moments where the big name production and the girls vocal really come together and the idea of the new Sugababes as a big glossy pop product really works.
Further attempts at upbeat pop crop up throughout and it's the only time the album is in anyway enjoyable. Wait For You and Thank You for the Heartbreak allow Jade to flex a bit of vocal muscle, Miss Everything with Sean Kingston is an obvious contender for a sure-fire hit single while She's A Mess is an all over the place but enjoyable cocktail of tumbling synths and cockney accents.
It's on the mid-tempo numbers and ballads that the whole thing falls apart. There isn't a single one that stands out and in fact feels like some of the worst stuff the band have ever placed on an album. No More You is dull, Sweet and Amazing is painfully cheesy and Little Miss Perfect is a limp and lifeless drone of a song. It's here that you realise that the band have been completely mismanaged in this new sound. The Sugababes of old were as at home with the powerful ballad as the club stomper. Stronger and Too Lost in You were epic and fitting and reminding you how much vocal power the trio possessed. None of the slower songs on Sweet 7 come close.
Overall, Sweet 7 is a patchy but listenable piece of slick pop with the occasional highlight. It's far too weighed down with filler to be truly great and as a Sugababes album it is sorely lacking. Hardcore fans will try and love it but everyone else will left a little bit disappointed.