Album Review: Sugababes
Something intriguing has been happening in the UK of late: the country's two biggest girl groups, Sugababes and Girls Aloud, have swapped places.
With their NME-ready scowls and Richard X connections, the Sugababes were always OK for indie kids to like. They might not have achieved constant number one singles, but man, did they sell albums. Meanwhile, Girls Aloud borne of 'Popstars UK', no less were the slightly cheesy, kids TV-ready act who had hit singles, but couldn't get anyone past puberty to buy their albums.
But this year, Girls Aloud have seen the number one debut of their new single and album, while everyone from Coldplay to Franz Ferdinand have declared themselves fans of the band and their Xenomania-produced pop. Meanwhile, the Sugababes's newest album has sold by the thimbleful, and they've been reduced to hawking a chemist's jingle ('Girls', the first single from 'Catfights', which also doubles as the soundtrack to an ad campaign for UK chemist giant Boots).
This shift in fortunes is somewhat unwarranted, as 'Catfights and Spotlights' is another typically strong offering from the 'Babes. Now on album six which deserves a standing ovation in itself, considering that's about five albums longer than your average girlband lasts the Sugababes have delivered possibly their most soulful, classic collection since their debut - the outstanding 'One Touch'.
Best of the bunch is the 21st-century Motown of 'You On A Good Day', the uber-cool 'Side Chick' and the epic murder ballad, 'Every Heart Broken' ("Last boy was a director on the silver screen/he wrote a slasher flick just for me/when he said "Cut!" I took it literally" GENIUS!). All three were written with Robyn cohort, Klas Ahlund, suggesting that in Ahlund, the Sugababes may have struck on their own Xenomania-style super producer to tailor-make future hits for them.
'Catfights and Spotlights' is out now on Universal