November 28, 2007
Review: Girls Aloud's Tangled Up
Though Tangled Up is truly the best Girls Aloud album, I've been stymied by it for about 10 days. What's my angle? How do I feel? What are the names of the damned songs? I cannot remember them. Listening to Kylie at the same time it occurred to me: When Kylie's bad, she flames out spectacularly. With Girls Aloud, they buff up a sleek metallic meh. And that's my issue with their new album. Only the first 7 songs are wicked cool, when every single one should devour you [actually it did swallow up Adem!].
Opener Call The Shots is the classic GA midtempo [reference point Singapore], while Sexy! No No No... is the "slightly insane club track" [see Biology, Something Kinda Oooh]. Fortunately these new songs are fierce, as is disco rampager Close To Love, about men with terrible hair. Really! It has a great, great line: "You'll never lay my animals here." Well... that's not really it, but "your manner made my animal kick" is still good, right?
I continue to fizz over the androidy part :50 seconds into Sexy! No No No... but the big druggie club track here is Girl Overboard, with that cheap Eurotrashy sound done by BWO and rarely understood by the high class likes of me. Black Jacks is stunning! That I don't know what the fuck it means is a Xenomania hallmark. Don't ask questions because "black jacks running down my back" sounds bitchin' hot and the shoutout [see 1:40] is brilliantly GoGo-esque.
There are a few sleeper hits. The continental Can't Speak French doesn't jump or zing, it just sways beautifully. I particularly like the "I've got to let you know" bits [see 1:56] and the Style Council-ish guitar just after. Control Of The Knife, which seems to have started before it begins (got that?), has a fantastic horn solo at 1:16 that lifts the song into the stratosphere, as do the vocodered vocals that follow.
For me, Tangled Up starts to go tearshaped with Fling. A firm favo(u)rite on PopJustice, it grates on me. Who knew they'd rhyme fling with bling? Tired. I could not tell you what comes after. The album becomes mired in a sea of greyness. What song is what? At the moment when the girls need their own White Diamond, they just keep hammering us with those mid-to-uptempo "Girls Aloud Songs" they favor on some recent shitty b-sides. Crocodile Tears wants to be a ballad, but isn't committed, and Damn is nothing more than a brazen rewrite of Real Life.
To be honest, Girls Aloud albums really are made on the Xenomania assembly line. On charitable days, I think Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper are really the 6th and 7th members of this band. At some point though, Xenomania can only write so many decent songs, much less zingers these girls deserve.
I do have a bit of a relationship late in the record with What You Crying For, which is hyper and zippy, but has very smooth vocals placed high up in the mix. I love how they just toss off an au courant moment with the pronunciation of "umb-er-ella." That sums up what I like about Girls Aloud - they stumble in from a night of drinking hard liquor (or in the case of Kimba, watching Love Actually or something), and they just sing the words while checking their manicures. They don't seem to question it because they kind of live it, you know? No angst here. When the songs are worthy, it's magic.
Yes, I was on sugar when I wrote this review. Mwah!