Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hottest Disc: Out of Control (A Commentary)

OK, so I couldn't really let Girls Aloud's new album, Out of Control go by without commenting on how insanely amazing its collection of tracks is. I proclaimed Tangled Up as my favourite album of last year but this is a markedly better effort, laced with pop classics and packed with attitude.

Here's a vague commentary:

Leading single The Promise, which I'm still not sick of after weeks of radio airplay (which is saying something) is interestingly not really representative of the album at all, which has a lot more going for it musically. The Loving Kind, which was written by the Pet Shop Boys (!) follows it and acts as an opium-style antidote to the sharp, addictive sound of the first track, numbing and captivating -- kind of like a more chilled out version of Call the Shots.

Rolling Back the Rivers in Time wakes you up, with its fierce vocal introduction and curious, plucky rhythm. I like it (especially in its latter stages) but it still remains one of my least favourite tracks on the album, and feels like one of the more generic 'pop' songs. Not a ballad but the closest you're gonna get to one on this particular CD. I also feel it should be towards the end of the album. But then the religious choir intro of Love is the Key adds yet another dimension to Out of Control, and the "oh oh oh, oh oh oh" backing (which I could literally sing to forever) and sassy, cutting beat provide one of the highlights of the album. "I'm mocha choco latte, you're more espresso shot" is also classic Girls Aloud.

Turn to Stone follows. It's at this point in the album where the electro really kicks in, and it quickly turns from a great, exciting effort to something seriously world class. Prickly, popping and with a lingering, gorgeous vocal tone it sets up the near seven-minute Untouchable, which is not a moment too long. "And in my dreams it feels like we are forty storeys tall" the girls swoon, and the track as a whole acts as the intoxicating, punch-drunk confession of love, even if seemingly flanked by songs which have the word in its title. But just as we're adapting the electro cuts out and we're treated to a fun, provocative R n' B number, Fix Me Up, which feels so horned-up. The delivery of the line "I got the bug. Feverish in the mornin'. Night or noon or evenin." is HOT.

The girls return with what is probably the best track of the lot, Love is Pain. Probably because the vocals are integrated so effectively within the song. The almost withdrawn, reluctant use of the line "It don't matter to me" catchy but (with the absence of any ballads) one of the most emotional moments of the album. It also ends with a resonant, fading chant of "Love is pain". Gorgeous.

If you think the five are broken by love though you're wrong, as track 9 is Miss You Bow Wow, and represents the parts of Girls Aloud we already love. Love Machine-esque with a lively beat and punchy, funny and inspired lyrics such as the hilarious, "I remember livin' the dream. Twenty minutes in a hotel bar, then I slip into your girlfriend's jeans". Who writes this shit? Love it. Revolution in the Head is next, a song I'm warming to but still don't enjoy that much. Its opening is undoubtedly very cool though. The last two songs are catchy. We Wanna Party has the lyric where "Out of Control" originates and is a fitting end to the album, but eleventh track Live in the Country is better, with the sound of bees buzzing, pigs snorting, and a chorus that ranks among the best Girls Aloud have ever produced.

Rating: A

You can listen to all of the tracks here

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