Artist Girls Aloud
Label Polydor (Universal)
Year 2004
Rating ★★★☆☆
Summary A mixed bag, but the best tracks are stunning.

Most pop albums are a mixed bag, with tracks spanning the range from good to dire, leaving you with the minor dilemma of whether it's worth keeping a whole album just for the handful of tracks you actually listen to. Girls Aloud's second album What Will the Neighbours Say? is no exception, but the standout tracks are so good that it's hard to feel cheated.

If you forget that it's sung by a manufactured band for a second, The Show has some great instrumentation, from its fat bassline and twangy synth line to its lush backing vocals.

Deadlines & Diets is a pleasantly chilled song that makes for a welcome break in amongst all the hypersexual, upbeat hits.

Big Brother has a lyric that's so strange, I can't work out whether it's stupid or genius, shamelessly pop or subversive. It seems to be about some kind of Orwellian wet dream as far as I can tell. The appropriately throbbing, pounding arpeggiated bassline, solid foundation and catchy main melody all add up to a fun little track.

Graffiti My Soul is clearly the best song on the album. Directly after the line "You dream of touching me there," a synth stab seems to serve as an instrumental symbolism for orgasm, which is appropriate considering the whole album is brimming with euphemisms. There's a lot of stuttered singing in this wonderfully overly stylised celebration of sexuality, but the producers pull this off at least better than all the tracks that used the same trick in the nineties. This track is proof that if you take a good dance track and put a sexually explicit lyric over the top, it will finally be as popular as it deserves to be. People demand lyrics.

Looking at this album from a cynical point of view, it's a bunch of vague sexual fantasies plucked from the teenage to mid twenties male demographic, then packaged up as if beautiful women want to act them out, all set to music. Looking at it from a more lenient viewpoint, this shamelessly manufactured pop album seems to have more innovation and good style than most independent records, making supposedly cutting edge producers seem stagnant by comparison.

I'm hesitant to recommend this album because it has the regular pop album's fair share of mediocre to plain cheesy tracks, as well as pointless covers of songs which you've probably already heard in their better original forms. Still, it's worth checking out the above four songs at least once if you ever get the chance.

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