Category Archives: Album Reviews

Album Review: Sugababes – Sweet 7

An album that lacked inspiration but still worked like a charm.

This current line-up of one of Britain’s biggest girl groups Sugababes may be dubbed as ‘Sugababes 4.0’ but they surely won’t be downed by the controversies, hatred they’re receiving from Keisha fans  and utterly disappointing sales from their singles. Their album, ‘Sweet 7’ is the official seventh studio album under the name Sugababes. Although there isn’t original member left in the line-up Jade, Amelle and Heidi acts like they’ve been together for a long time now – well, that’s only in my opinion.

I’m not going to talk about Keisha anymore, I promise.

The 12 track LP opened with the first single, ‘Get Sexy’ – to be honest it really sounded better when Jade recorded it not that we’re biased or anything. It’s a hot club banger that’s full of swagger and ambition. Although it lacks originality, ‘Get Sexy’ is still one of the babes’ ‘Fiercest’.

Thenit’s followed by the current single, ‘Wear My Kiss’  – a dancy, another egocentric track that puts Jade in a fugly ponytail (please refer to the video). Then there’s the redone track we all loved ‘About A Girl’ which actually sounded a lot better than the original version of it.

Probably the best track in my opinion is ‘Thank You For The Heartbreak’ – it’s another anthem about women empowerment which is catchy as hell and doesn’t disappoint as it gave Jade the opportunity to put up her vocal range (which is pretty good to be honest).

But you can’t actually erase the fact that most of the songs in this album are just recycled materials. Only the first half of the album gave a better listening experience while the latter half suffered the lack of inspiration, creativity and charm the Sugababes used to have just 2 editions ago.

Overall, the album isn’t a totally suck up album but rather an album that felt short of a massive expectation about something really big since it was held off for almost 4 almost four months. Too bad that ‘Sweet 7’ might really be the last album from once the biggest girl group in the UK, the Sugababes

RELEASED: March 5, 2010 (UK)

LABEL: Island Records

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Album Review: Delphic – Acolyte

Considering the fact that I’m an Indie lover, ‘Delphic’, a quartet from Manchester defies Indie and gives us proper mainstream alternative music. With cutting edge musicality, infusion of electronic music into beautifully written verses it’s no wonder why these lads came in third in BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll. And surely, it’s a fact that upon the release of their much-anticipated debut effort, positive ratings from critics arise without bias.

I’ve been actually meaning to write this review for a long time now. Upon hearing ‘Counterpoint’ last year, I am completely convinced they have potential. Serious potential. The fast paced drums, electric hype they’re presenting with each track is just magnanimous. Their debut effort reached #8 in the UK albums chart last January. Although quite disappointing. It’s just a chart number.

Before the release of ‘Acolyte’, the lads already had two singles placed under their belts. The incredible killer tracks ‘Counterpoint’ and ‘This Momentary’ which gave us a generous taste of what’s coming in their debut LP.

Aside from their first two singles, tracks on ‘Acolyte’ never disappoint. The single that coincided with the release of their album, ‘Doubt’ is as equally brilliant as the other songs in the album are. Climactic electronic synth laden undercurrents seems to be their ability and it definitely translates well in each track.

‘Halcyon’, on the other hand is another killer track from the lads. Immense queer synths and samples seem to make it sound as mythical as the title track suggests. It also presents a serious lyrics with James Cook sings ‘Give me something I can believe in… What you say doesn’t say that you mean it’ with aplomb. It’s absolutely convincing and very tacky that it could be considered to be one of my favourites in the album.

Delphic may tend to put themselves in the position of other prominent bands of their influence. It’s quite obvious that you can hear a bit of Bloc Party, The Klaxons and even Pendulum in some of the tracks. Having said that, their take on it is pretty clever and is polished that for some it might not leave a trace of where it’s from.

During the course of the listening experience of the LP, it’s a no brainer that these lads know what they’re doing and they’re absolutely doing it right. Although their tact is quite confusing as they finished the album in a slow pace. After the fast paced tracks that are quite heavy and orgasmic the transition presented by ‘Ephemera’ denotes a  transitory regression of an equally brilliant album. ‘Remain’ might not be a good idea to end it but it still doesn’t erase the fact that the album provided an electrifying, mind-boggling listening experience.

Although it might be too early to say that they’ve produced their best, they surely got what it takes to have longevity in their choice of path. It’s also true that ‘Acolyte’ might just be one of the greatest album of the new decade and they’ve really set the bar high this year. And the end point, we can’t wait for their new album already.

LABEL: Polydor Records

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Album Review: Vampire Weekend – Contra

The indie rock outfit from New York definitely lit up the music scene with their debut album Vampire Weekend which got released two years ago. After two years, the band finally released their sophomore effort named Contra which actually serves as a great follow-up to its predecessor.

Contra opens up with Horchata (this is actually a name for a Mexican rice drink). The track shows off the band’s unique suits right from the get-go: the pulsating African drums. Following Horchata is the synth-laden White Sky. Ezra Koenig does sound great in this one as well. The chord work done on White Sky is simply great in my honest opinion. Holiday gives off a The Strokes semblance. The chord work is at its peak in this one. The presence of the keyboard helps add a sense of lushness into the track. Absolutely the album’s best moment.

Taxi Cab comes off as a surprise. The presence of the rhythms created by the piano are absolutely gorgeous. It does not sound as a very edgy track unlike previous material from the band but it does a great job nevertheless. Meanwhile, Run charges in like a festive track with the way the drums were going in the track.

No matter how hard I tried to appreciate the album, it does have quirks. California English, with its very hard-to-understand lyrics, is really a letdown. Cousins just does not match the richness of A-Punk. Sure, the high-paced crashing of the drums is great as well as the rapid playing of the guitar but it’s simply a track that loses its flavor eventually.

Another upbeat track comes with Giving Up The Gun. The synth-dominated track just ends as a decent track though it may seem underrated for others. However, Diplomat’s Sun may end up as the album’s most underrated track. The synth does a lovely job in this one.

The album closes with style through I Think Ur A Contra. It is a great ballad that shows off lots of great emotion from the band. The orchestral style seen in the track is definitely a treat to the senses as well.

Contra is not better than Vampire Weekend. However, the band’s efforts in trying to change things up must be lauded. Vampire Weekend knows what it’s doing with their stuff but it just falls short. However, the tracks are really likable once the third spin with the record is done. It really can be a grower. Still, I am convinced that the band got off track in Contra and eventually, the band does not match the greatness that its debut album had.

Recommended Tracks: Horchata, White Sky, Holiday, Taxi Cab, and I Think Ur A Contra

Genre: Rock

Label: XL Recordings

Date Released: January 8, 2010

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Album Review: Ellie Goulding – Lights

Oh lord. As soon as I saw this, I almost fainted on the floor. You know how much I adored Elena Jane Goulding (aka Ellie Goulding) right? This review might be considered bias as by some but this really is what I thought about Ellie Goulding’s debut album.

It seems that Ellie really holds a lot of pressure as of the moment. After winning the Critic’s Choice Award at the Brit Awards early December and ranking first on the BBC sound of 2010 poll. It doesn’t deny that we are all expecting loads of things from this Herefordshire bred English singer. Will ‘Lights’, her debut album live up to those expectations or will she come short in providing us an album that will ultimately set the bar high as the best album for this year? That we’ll have to find out soon.

With the help of British music producer, Starsmith, Ellie steps up to her game to provide us with a 37-minute 10-track LP that will serve her penultimate impression to people who’d love or hate her music in the near future. ‘Lights’ opens up with ‘Guns and Horses’, which surfaced the internet as an acoustic number. ‘Guns and Horses’ doesn’t disappoint with the synths and the drum paced rhythm incorporated with mythical xylophone undercurrents and a majestic chorus that Ellie announces ‘But I wish I could feel it all for you. I wish I could be in it all for you’ – sounds a bit heroic right? Ellie’s queer vocals stuns us in this powerful opener – which isn’t actually the best part if you may ask.

Second track from the LP is the current single, ‘Starry Eyed’ which she announces as a dance anthem. Ellie’s celestial vocals didn’t disappoint once again as she delivers an astounding pop/dance number. Its radio friendly and very current and it is starting to be favoured as the best moment of the LP.

The ‘Folktronica’ genre that she was trying to popularise isn’t quite that evident in the album as it is mostly filled with synth-laden, almost dancy indulgent pop tunes. Don’t get me wrong, these are ace songs but doesn’t really live up to the utmost expectations we’re trying to get from her. ‘This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)’, ‘I’ll Hold My Breath’ are quite just average in terms of likability and originality but nonetheless, they’re both good.

‘Under The Sheets’ on the other hand was supposed to be a real introduction to Miss Goulding’s character and ability – it kind of did justice by giving us a heavy, heart-warming synth extravaganza that keys in as aggressiveness, fast-paced dance track.

One of the most promising tracks in the album is the beautifully written ‘The Writer’. Ellie pours her heart out as she sings about trying to make the most out of a failing relationship as she sings, ‘Why don’t you be the artist that makes me out of clay, why won’t you be the writer and design the words I say’. It sounds melancholic but beautiful.

‘Your Biggest Mistake’ is another disappointment in terms of finding artistry within Ellie. Having said that, the beat mades up for the lack of personality in it. Being produced by Fraser Smith, it chases to the likes of what Taio Cruz might sing.

The last two tracks on the album, ‘I’ll Hold My Breathe’ and ‘Salt Skin’ doesn’t do much recovery from the loss the album presented earlier. The two songs have definitely separate identities from each other but both suggest a not so good ending for the album. They’re not really memorable in terms of melody but somewhere lurking in the lyrics are streams of emotions Ellie tries to sing for us to embody her purpose.

Artistically, Ellie somehow failed to bring her true potential in most of the album tracks of ‘Lights’. Although lyrically, it presented something otherwise – exceptional songwriting that needs a little bit of makeover to be presented as something magnificent, extravagant and really opinion depolarising. It kind of settles in between Amazing and Good.


RELEASED: March 1, 2010

STAND-OUT TRACKS: ‘Starry Eyed’, ‘Guns and Horses’, ‘The Writer’, ‘Under The Sheets’, ‘Your Biggest Mistake’

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Album Review: Ke$ha – Animal

I remembered hearing Ke$ha for the first time last year when she got featured in Flo Rida’s ‘Right Round’. Well it was her first mainstream media appearance if you may ask. Since then, the buzz has been up who Kesha Sebert was. Little did we know that the blonde Tennessee girl has been working with Dr. Luke and Max Martin since the tender age of 17. Now, Ke$ha has achieved unbelievable success and mainstream appreciation with her single, ‘Tik Tok’ which seemed like an overnight phenomena.

Ke$ha takes a big step with her debut album, ‘Animal’ which took 3 years in the making. Like Lady GaGa, Ke$ha tries to be a deviant of today’s manufactured pop music. Her eclectic mix of pop, electronica, dance and rock simplifies into a marvellous pop record – of course with a main theme presented PARTYING. We can all get that Ke$ha loves to party and it clearly shows in most of the songs in the record – a big example of which is the ridiculously catchy, ‘Tik Tok’.

The almost an hour LP opens with a similar theme based on ‘TT’, ‘You’re Love Is My Drug’ captures every bit of excitement. An infectious rhythm encrypted with a ‘party animal’ atmosphere – it doesn’t fail to bring out the momentum on what we can anticipate on the entirety of the LP.

Following ‘YLIMD’, the number 1 hit ‘Tik Tok’ still keeps the pace up with the celebrations, being drunk wasted theme. It might be really hard not to enjoy this track as it came to us by storm. Rambunctious and naughty in style, it’s Ke$ha’s defining moment of the album.

Although the positive, carefree outlook of Ke$ha’s music clearly shows in most of her tracks – quality might be compensated over identity. Severly autotuned vocals can be quite a minus in some of her offerings. ‘Take It Off’ is a pretty good example of it. Although the track’s addictive it failed to show her individuality that’s much needed in order for her to be called a great artist.

Having all those party tracks the album is promoting, ‘Animal’ shows a bit of Ke$ha’s life. A debut album might be a miss if it doesn’t have those sobby things that lingers on the artist’s failures, life experiences or anything particular that might bring the ‘other side’ of an artist. There were some tracks that would’ve suited in a piano based instrumentals such as ‘Blind’ and ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ – but heck these tracks did sound quite good but you know, it could’ve been better.

I guess we already get what Ke$ha would like us to know about her. It’s definitely pop music that we’d love to listen to after party night hangovers or music that we’d love to party while ‘brushing our teeth with a bottle of jack’ kind of. Although there are clearly some things Ke$ha can improve on, I strongly believe she has what it takes to be a respectable pop star. Not some drunk chick trying to take over the world with her drunk party arse tunes.

RATING: B+

RELEASED: January 5, 2009 (US), February 1, 2009 (UK)

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Album Review: The Saturdays – Wordshaker

It was August of last year when Fascination is introducing the  latest addition in their roster. The Saturdays are seeking for massive attention from the British public upon the release of their debut single, ‘If This Is Love’. As the girls present their style of music, they have been untimely compared to their predecessors, Girls Aloud, Sugababes, The Spice Girls etc. The good thing is, the girls went on to a good start, as their debut single entered at #8. Their next single, ‘Up’ went on to be a top 5 hit. As the girls drew closer to the release of their debut album, Vanessa, Mollie, Frankie, Una and Rochelle are the hottest girls in British pop music at that time.

A year passed and the girls already have all their singles enter the top 25 of the UK Singles Charts and a decent debut pop album in their belts ‘Chasing Lights’ (which was certified Platinum status by the BPI), they’re just starting to become legends in their own rights. Now, they’re up for album number 2, ‘Wordshaker’. Did ‘Wordshaker’ surmount the standards of their debut? Or did it fall short to give aplomb and settle for a flailing second album?

Opening the 45 minute album is their latest single, ‘Forever Is Over’. The Beat Review gave the album a decent rating upon the first few spins of the record. Unfortunately, upon thorough consideration and contemplation about how the song sounds, we may find it very boring towards the end. The dark sound kind of sets the girls apart from their ‘Chasing Lights’ CD but I think it is too early to consider this as the album’s carrier song.

Like what they did with ‘Chasing Lights’, ‘Wordshaker’ has its own syrupy, power-ballads. The Brandy demoed ‘No Air’ – wait its ‘Here Standing’ is very cliché sounding. As well as ‘No One’ which is kind of very predictable – as some of the songs in the LP were.

Unsurprisingly, the girls also ventured on to their inner ‘fierce’ side. As their late-due single ‘Work’ sets the trend on some songs in the album. The title track is like a mash-up of ‘Work’ with a bit darker ambiance floating everywhere. Same as with ‘One Shot’ , whose electro-pop synths are as heavy as unbeatable drums. Then there’s ‘Ego’ which describes having a man with a narcissistic character.  These songs tell us stories of domination, not in the sense that it is vulgar but taking over good-gone bad relationships because of mischievous boys.

Although there are quite some impressive hooks in the album, we can’t help but notice the girls’ improving or downgrading vocal prowess. During the course of the LP, it’s noticeable that there have been so much shouting going on in some songs like ‘Forever Is Over’, ‘Not Good Enough’ and ‘Loose Control’. It sounded a bit too loud that it tends to be annoying at some time.

As the album went to a quite convincing precipice towards the end, ‘Wordshaker’ doesn’t escape album fillers. ‘2.a.m’ which doesn’t sound like something The Saturdays would do, might be most likely described as a Girls Aloud rip-off.  ‘Wordshaker’ might give some impressive songs with undoubtedly powerful hooks, but it doesn’t exceed the marvellous impression ‘Chasing Lights’ showered us last year. It’s very pop sounding with electro-pop goodness overflowing in some good parts; it lacked personality which we’re still yet to see from the girls. The album didn’t completely live up its expectations thus making it a weak second album. They should embark on other aspects in which they can excel or improve on such as songwriting and enough experimentation to make their act a bit more exciting. ‘Wordshaker’ doesn’t completely disappoint but it doesn’t go on to be as great as they can be.

RATING: 7/10

RELEASED: October 12, 2009 (UK)

DOWNLOAD THIS: ‘Open Up’ , ‘Wordshaker’ , ‘One Shot’

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Album Review: Alexandra Burke – Overcome

When Alexandra Burke appeared on the X Factor, I didn’t immediately came to realise she was a strong contender. In a way, I’d say she’s too Leona for me during the beginning of the competition until she sang upbeat, dance songs like ‘Toxic’ and ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ – I realised Alex has to become an artist of her own right. She doesn’t need any comparisons at all. Alex has one of those voices that are just recognisable from the moment you hear it. In other words, she’s unique in way that she has her own identity as a singer/artist.

The X Factor winner now finally came to realise her true potential as she showers us with her amazing debut album. It’s an eclectic mix of styles ranging from power ballads to upbeat electro-pop songs that really sets her apart from just a winner of a reality –singing competition. In lieu of a fair commentary about the album, I’ll give a comment on each song with appropriate ratings.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not completely impressed with Alex’s first offering, ‘Bad Boys’. Although I must say the song’s quite catchy, she failed to give a sense of identity as what she would like to be known as a solo artist. The addition of Flo Rida in the song didn’t make the song any better – hence, making it worse. But it’s unfair to give the debut single the credit on how the album will sound. (3/5)

The next track, ‘Goodnight, Good Morning’- a collaboration with Ne-Yo is an R&B stomper. I guess it followed the trend ‘Bad Boys’ started by giving us another upbeat track. To be completely honest, I think this track has the least potential in becoming a hit single although this can be a favourite in the album for some. (2/5)

A not-so-surprising third track is ‘The Silence’. The track is somehow incorporates some elements from Leona’s ‘Whatever It Takes’ in the beginning. The potential of this song is quite high. Alexandra presents an outstanding take on a big ballad that her voice suited it perfectly. It’s a bit sad but the power of the song never failed to make it a bore. Prolly one of the bests in the album (5/5)

After the breathe-taking power ballad comes the upbeat, cutesy ‘All Night Long’. The song gave Alexandra an assurance for being a versatile singer. Another single potential, the track has its much appeal to the mass. If released, it has the qualities of being a dance-club smash hit. (4/5)

The intro to ‘Bury Me (6 feet Under)’ made me happy. The theatrical, jolly sounding beat of the song is really appealing and ear catching. It’s definitely not an album filler although I don’t see it as a potential hit single. Don’t get me wrong, the songs’ good but just not that good. (4/5)

‘Broken Heels’, the album’s sixth track is surprisingly a RedOne collab. Yes, you heard me right, REDONE. It doesn’t sound like most of the tracks RedOne has produced. It’s a sassy, electronic pop concoction that suited Alexandra’s personality in ‘Bad Boys’. The energy of the song is just irresistible. (4/5)

Halfway through the album is the seventh track ‘Dumb’.  I think this one is the album’s lowest point. Although the chorus is okay, it doesn’t move me at all. (2/5)

The title track ‘Overcome’ is undeniably a Ryan Tedder produced borer. The heaviness of the song can be compared to Jordin Sparks’ ‘Battlefield’. To be honest, I’m quite tired with those Tedder sounding productions that just coincidentally sound alike. The song’s lyrics are worth it  but the beat made it boring as hell. (2/5)

‘Gotta Go’ was indeed a bit more boring than ‘Overcome’. It doesn’t have a potential in terms of it being big as some of the songs in the album are. This is probably the lowest point in the album as far as I’m concerned. (1/5)

The Pixie Lott co-written track ‘You Broke My Heart’ sounds very Motown-ish and soulful that it can be a leftover Duffy track. The track’s quite okay but didn’t fit with Alexandra’s style. Same as ‘Bury Me’, it doesn’t prove to be anything worth worshipping for. (3/5)

Almost done with the album but I’m still feeling that I’m just in the middle of listening to it. The electro-pop disco fudge, ‘Nothing But The Girl’ seems to be setting Alexandra to one of those pop divas getting an image with high-heels, flashy cars and glittering outfits. Like ‘Broken Heels’ it’s sassy enough to be a favourite in the album. The attitude just floats everywhere – FIERCE. (4/5)

The twelfth track in the album, ‘They Don’t Know’ is the album’s softest spot. Brilliantly crafted lyrics that don’t fail to be compared to a Leona record. The piano-inflicted anthem is indeed what Alexandra should be singing. It suited her voice perfectly and all. I’m just not sure if this was really meant for her album. (4/5)

Hallelujah! It’s the UK Christmas #1 single of 2008 and it still bores me. The cover is good but I still don’t get why did Simon chose this as the winner’s song. If JLS should’ve won, I won’t like this at all. (3/5)

Last but not the least is the bonus track, ‘It’s Over’. The truth is, it really sounded like a track from Leona Lewis’ ‘Spirit’. Having said that, it’s quite my favourite in the bunch. I just love the way it sounded, very uplifting and sunny-shine outlook. (5/5)

Overall, I think Alexandra did a pretty good job in veering away from Leona’s image. She has her own style and she can sing some good dance songs don’t she? But the sad truth is she failed to erase that she’s a winner of a Reality Singing Competition. Although there’s variations presented, she can do more of her talent.

GRADE: B

RELEASED: October 2009

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