Wednesday, November 15, 2006

All Saints - Studio 1

So, after breaking up over disagreements within the camp, the foursome have decided to sweep all their woes under the carpet and get back together.

Huge dollops of media hype have been thrust into our faces, announcing the return of "One of Britain's best girl groups".

The hype is there, the first single has been unleashed to mixed welcome and now we get 12 songs from a group of girls who say they just "had to work together again".


There are two things that strike me when listening to this album:
Who turned down the songs in the first place
Oh dear!

The album kicks off with the first single released, Rock Steady. The first few listens to this song via the radio did nothing for me. Nothing more than an ok pop song, but then the hooks dug in and I found myself really enjoying it. The 'Ska' flavour adds a certain interest to the rather average drum and bassline and this would be well remembered because this particular 'flavour' crops up again on quite a few songs. It's no "Never Ever" or "Black Coffee", that's for sure, but as a pop song, it's pretty good.

I find myself getting worried when a new album leads off with the first track being released as a single. I almost see it as a cop out ploy to wind the listener in, after all, when you're looking down the tracklisting on the case of a cd, it's always good to be greeted with a song that you know and like straight away.

The next song, Chick Fit is pants. Shouty vocals, an instantly forgettable chorus and nothing in it to make you hit the repeat button. A definite track skipper.

On and On reminds me of "Pure Shores". Mainly because of the dreamy arrangement of the vocals. Strings wash in and out of the chorus, complimenting their vocals really well and in my opinion this has got potential single written all over it.

Scar next. A play on word there maybe because the Ska flavour rears it's head on this track. Apart from the driving bassline, this sounds like it would have been more at home as a B Side. Brass instruments give the song a slight dancehall style, alas it's just not enough and this falls into the 'instantly unforgettable' pile.

Next up is Not Easy. Oh and quelle surprise, it's that ska/reggae beat again. This is a much better song than the previous track, but that's not saying much. It's a lot more catchy with it's repetitive chorus, sung in the inevitable All Saints style (all the girls sing over each other) but there's whistling. Whistling for goodness sakes! And it's not even good whistling. I mean, who whistles nowadays? Roger Whittaker has a lot to answer for!

Hell No begins with Shaznay singing one line, then the rest of the girls responding with a chorus response, then Shaznay, then the girls, then Shaznay....Get the picture. It's not a bad song by any means. Mid tempo and once again a nice use of strings washing around the chorus. Samples of giggles and laughter get dropped in, which make me feel like this should be have been a much beefier track, slanted towards the club scene, but alas, this is All Saints and it doesn't matter how many times they say "These new songs have a much more clubbier feel", they just don't.

Once again, the essence of "Pure Shores" shows up in the next track, One Me and U. That is until the chorus kicks in. I'm not quite sure what they wanted this track to feel like, but for me, when the girls sing the chorus, it sounds like it's taken from a West End Musical. There's almost a childlike simplicity to the way this song is put together, then about half way through some idiot on the mixing desk has decided it would be a great idea to add samples of the girls going "Ha ha ha ha" under the chorus. Hello??? Can you even hear how tacky that sounds??? The song ends as if they didn't know how to end it. It's a crap ending, seriously.

Headlock has the girls singing about bad relationships and bitches. The beats are actually pretty catchy in this song. It follows their typical blueprint of either Shaznay or Melanie delivering the verses, followed by all the girls providing the chorus. This is probably one of the better songs on the album, but it's still a million miles away from being a potential hit single.

By now I've almost lost interest in the album. There's been very little to shout out "All Saints are back and kickin' some ass". Too Nasty sounds like a song title from a Janet Jackson album. The title itself almost threatens a phat tune with clever lyrics dissing this, that and the other. What we actually get is (once again) that Ska flavour coupled with a percussion track that sounds like somebody has sampled a panting dog. I kid you not! The vocals are arranged quite nicely but the lyrics are complete throwaway. Written on the back of a cigarette packet anyone? I think I can actually hear the Appleton sisters on this track. Yep, they chant "'Cos you're nasty boy" and do some La La La La La's.
Go figure!

In It To Win It sounds like the name of a quiz TV program, huh? This is actually my favourite track on the album. Slow tempo beats, a simple bassline, some nice keyboard action and guitar (albeit too little) drive this song along nicely. The breaks between verse and chorus are broken up nicely with a twinkle on a piano and that's always a good thing in my book. Sometimes the background vocals get a little shouty, but that aside this is a very nice track.

The next track, Flashback doesn't sound like it knows what it wants to do. The vocals sound untidy and the verse isn't the usual 'one girl' singing style so everything sounds like it's crashing into each other. This is probably the most rocked out sounding song on the album and subsequently reminds me of the Appleton sister's efforts at carrying on when the group became defunkt.

Fundamental finishes off an album that is quite frankly hard work to listen to. It's a great closing song though and a potential single, although once again I don't think Girls Aloud will be too worried about going head-to-head with this one. Of all the tracks on the album, this one actually sounds like they had a producer sat in the studio when they recorded it. The vocals are confident, once again strings supply a nice dream like effect, building nicely just underneath the chorus. Point of note is that the chorus doesn't actually sound like All Saints. Perhaps this is why it sounds so good. Very kind to the ear and definitely the best choice to end off an album.

So what happened?
If a group decide, for whatever reason, to re-ignite their passion by reforming and cutting songs to unleash into the world, then fair enough. But surely they would only want to crawl back together with their tails between their legs if they had something potentially great to offer. This is where All Saints fall down in my opinion. In a world where people's musical tastes change as often as their underwear, it surely makes no sense at all to make a huge media fuss about getting back together only to deliver a bunch of quite frankly....sub-standard songs.
All Saints made the decision to get back together for reasons unknown. It certainly couldn't have been to deliver great music and it makes me wonder if somebody didn't suggest to them that money could be made by getting back together.
Of course, they would never admit that.

Many of these songs sound like they were thrown out of camp Girls Aloud. I'm not saying Girls Aloud are brilliant by any means, but at least they (or somebody at their Record Company) know how to cut a catchy pop song.

Dear All Saints,

I feel so let down.


bedshaped x

2 Discussions:

Blogger bedshaped said...

Slight return....
The first week of release sees the All Saints album crash into the top 40 chart.
Number 40!
Is it all over before it even gets warmed up?

8:38 PM  
Blogger Cat said...

I don't know about the music (I've only heard that one single which I think is okay) but I'm saddened to see that All Saints are still sporting stripy streaks in their hair. It's 2006, girls - surely you can afford to have the whole lot dyed one colour?

2:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home