Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SUGABABES-Catfights And Spotlights (2008)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 21, 2016

I enjoyed some sugar with the spice a couple of days ago with the British sweeties that the pop music world knows and loves as THE SPICE GIRLS, and then I get some extra sugar and spice tonight with the fellow British girl group that calls itself THE SUGABABES. My very first time ever treating myself to a full-length listening of tunes by the latter bunch is represented by their 2008 effort, :Catfights And Sugababes".....er.....make that "Catfights and Spotlights". Could've gone with any one of their albums, considering the girl group mood that I've found myself in as of late, but something about the alluring cover artwork—whether seen in the music sections of retail stores or in the virtual online music world—has always drawn me to this one in particular. As usual, a good selection on my part, and I quickly found out just how good upon taking in the BABES' opening anthem simply entitled "Girls". I like when these modern-day pop artists have the retro-pop thing going on with their songs, and I would see that the retro theme is a recurring one all throughout, resurfacing as soon as the three follow-ups of "You On A Good Day", "No Can Do" (an insta-favorite with so much coolness happening in the rhythm!) ad the spunky "Hanging On A Star" (the way they deliver the verses reminds me of THE BEATLES' classic, "Twist And Shout", while their playful chanting of 'tell me baby, baby, tell me what you want' is as infectious as the surprise upstep in the disco dance tempo). Was looking forward to the one called "Side Chick". Ooh, sounds like there's some trouble brewing one this one, I thought to myself. Except I thought it would be the SUBAGABES bunch singing about another girl who's the chick on the side and not one of them being the side chick herself! All sorts of spice on this simmering cut, highlighted by their sweet harmony in the chorus and the honey-sweet flow of the song altogether. 'Boy, you better get your head checked'—my favorite line on the whole song! Felt an emotional storm brewing on "Unbreakable Heart", which turns out to be quite the meaningful piece, once I really paid close attention to what they're asking: what good is a heart that doesn't break? Never experiencing the real thing and never knowing what the ups and downs of love feels like.....there's a danger in that, as the girls point out. I love the odd arrangement to the music most of all, particularly with the somber sound of the shrill keyboard tones accompanying the chords. "Sunday Rain": I predicted one more beautiful 'rain' song on the horizon, but I didn't predict how majestically dynamite it would be! The girls and the production crew team up to do it up big and bold on what's not your usual slow jam and a definite highlight of this album! 'You break my heart, I'll break yours, that's how it goes': that's my favorite line here. The brokenhearted theme resurfaces again on one that I had a lot of fun with: "Every Heart Broken". Love the analogy of breaking someone's heart like committing the ultimate murder, proven by their words of 'murder one' and 'looking down the barrel of a smoking gun'; the intensity of the music, which starts off innocently enough with a delicate piano piece before spice heats things up, serving as the perfect setting for this scene of the crime. Just as bold and intense is the mid-tempo, bluesy jam called "Beware", where again I would find a line in the chorus that stuck to me: ' you don't wanna mess with me '. Nuff said there. Back to the bouncy retro-inspired pop on the delightfully catchy "Nothing's As Good As You" before the emotions turn back sour on "Sound Of Goodbye" and one that I've nominated as the next 'Slow Jam Of The Night': "Can We Call A Truce?". The latter is definitely one that will grab hold of your soul and weigh on it heavily as the sad tonality of the orchestral chords and the seriousness of the words melt into your blood. 'I would rather fight than lose you'—it doesn't get any more serious than that. A gem of a performance for sure, but thankfully, the mood brightens up before the album comes to a close with the warming acoustic piano piece, "About You Now" (don't these acoustic piano pieces always bring out the best in an artist's vocals?; no deviation from the norm here) , and the club-spunky jam that is "She's Like A Star", where the girls collaborate with British phenom Taio Cruz. So in the midst of all this catfighting and the spotlighting, there's some sweet music here that these SUGABABES ensure you will find delectably tantalizing:

1. Girls
2. You On A Good Day
3. No Can Do
4. Hanging On A Star
5. Side Chick
6. U breakable Heart
7. Sunday Rain
8. Every Heart Broken
9. Beware
10. Nothing's As Good As You
11. Sound Of Goodbye
12. Can We Call A Truce?
13. About You Now [Acoustic] [Bonus Track]
14. She's Like A Star [Feat. Taio Cruz]

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