Girls Aloud – Out Of Control (Polydor)
Largely, where attempts are made to engage with Girls Aloud‘s desired critical audience is where they come across with less conviction. Revolution In The Head is one such example, a rather vague and simplistic rallying tune in the girls’ ‘sassy’ mode. Worse, though, is the faux-ragga intro which seemingly has no relevance apart from how, y’know, reggae songs are about revolution and stuff. Still, the arrangement is extremely inventive – listen out for the droning oboe line in the background, it’s an eerie and almost inaudible effect that is more powerful to the subconscious than any of the lyrics.
Fix Me Up is very unsexy because of how brazen it is, Live In The Country is purely bizarre, but the worst song here is undoubtedly the closing We Wanna Party. Seemingly an attack on emo kids, or maybe Goths, it aims so directly at its targets that the term ‘preaching to the converted’ might be a tremendous understatement. Of course their existing fans will share the opinion. The purpose of this song is, arguably, to put forward the notion that Girls Aloud are very aware of their position in the media and for them to gain further valorisation from ‘serious’ music fans, but it comes off as slightly ignorant. “We wanna party but we got no love!” is slightly too strong a refrain to be as intelligent as it hopes.
Still, The Loving Kind is as wistful as they come and another excellent example of the pleading, beaten lyrics working far better than any others. Without sounding chauvinistic, Girls Aloud come across far better when they are devotional and not spurning their men so strongly and obviously. As far as their audience-splitting trick goes, they can’t ever stick with pure pop or attempts at crossing over into credibility. The fact is that they only achieve that credibility when they don’t mean to, when they’re simply singing songs with emotions and without agendas. In terms of furthering perceptions of the ‘girl band’ as a form, type or genre, Girls Aloud will only succeed if they ignore the external influences that have somehow convinced to them to strive for critical success. Deny it all turns they probably will, but it’s difficult not to think that someone has told them “hey, you girls could be Madonna when ‘Ray Of Light’ came out”. It’s not a guise that suits them – they should react to Out Of Control with a follow-up of the purest pop possible.
Read part 1 of this review here.