The Sugababes have appeared with little introduction and even less ceremony. And in some glorious twist of irony they are probably the most refreshing group of this
millennium. Their exciting mix of intelligent pop and schmoosy-smooth rhythm and blues is wonderfully mature compared with some of their considerably older
'Overload' opens the album, as slick and classy a debut single as you could ever hope for. The girls' haunting voices and unusual harmonies are complemented
spectacularly by their deadpan and unique choreography. The general feel of the album is R'n'B, but this smudges at the edges where we may find a garage rhythm or an
intensely soulful chorus.
The production on the record is as impressive as the girls' performance. The predominantly co-written tracks have enough going on for even the most discerning of listeners.
The instruments are used wisely to fill the songs without overcrowding; they go hand in hand with the drum tracks, which, in turn, enhance the vocals quite beautifully.
For a trio of such young women to have songs to their credit such as 'Just Let It Go' and 'Look At Me' is a regular miracle by today's standards. 'Just Let It Go' is an
amazingly silky, swing creation with a heavy drum rhythm and sweet, girlie vocals. The harmonies and solo performances are truly stunning.
'Look At Me' is more a straightforward R'n'B stomper. Here again the relationship between the voices and the instruments has been perfectly balanced. The Sugababes
singing, "Look at me, I'm still your little girl."
Although there are slower points of this album there is no doubt it is an excellent debut. The music is exquisite in its richness and luxury and the girls have got style. Their
simple elegance combined with arrogant youth should see them into the limelight they deserve.
Great pop is all in the detail. A great hook, a great look and a great gimmick can all help, but at the end of the day the difference between great pop and the seemingly
endless pop conveyor belt of Record Co. Inc. in West London is an elusive thing? Great pop is harder to make than great rock, great indie, great dance great anything, but
when Sugababes sulked on to Saturday morning kids TV a few months ago with the 'no-smiles, no dancing, no-smiling, no sh*t' non-performance that was 'Overload', the
birth of an important pop band was posted in all the right places.
Siobhan, Mutya and Keisha - a great hand in a game of Scrabble - are a pop trio so young that bumping into label-mates All Saints at London Records must be like
bumping into your mum down the shops on Saturday morning when you're with your mates. The music? Oh the music is just magnificent. Sugababes sing like angels -
angels who've earned their wings listening to TLC and SWV not the Spice Girls.
'Overload' was the most extraordinary debut pop single since Fine Young Cannibal's 'Johnny Come Home' - a twisted, pumped up stripped down pop song thats
attention to detail - the now obligatory sound of a dust-laden stylus, the bass note rising on the intro as the snare kicks in, the bonkers guitar solo and the angst ridden tale
of school girl lust - marked it out as the year's most original pop hit single by a city mile.
And there's plenty more where that came from. Using a backing band who appreciate that an acoustic guitar will always be more effective than a Vocoder, that jazz chords
compliment sweet vocals - especially so when they are this sweet - 'One Touch' will terrify the competition. The fact that this is only stage one in the trio's plan for pop world
domination makes it doubly impressive.
By the time the acoustic latin thrum of 'Just Let It Go', which puts Craig David's own impressive unplugged performances of 'Seven Days' to shame, grinds itself into your
brain, it's clear that these girls aren't looking to usurp Atomic Kitten or S Club 7. Hell, they've got TLC at their best in their sights and nothing less will do. Gotcha.
'Look At Me' will probably be the last time Sugababes can claim to be daddy's little girls - a sweet anthem to a life they are already fast leaving behind, while 'One Touch'
arrives courtesy of the coolest jazz guitar intro of the new millennium and a call to kick off the past and move on up - brilliant, smouldering stuff.
If it's more straight ahead funky soul you're after then we got that too. 'Real Thing' harks back to classic 80s jazz funk and leads us neatly into 'Overload''s follow up, and
the very the seasonal 'New Year'. Not as wired or skewed as the debut, but amusingly adding that old stylus again, this sweet Xmas single simply shows how well these
girls can sing - not shout, not dance - sing. It won't knock Westlife off top spot at the end of December but it shows they can compete on more than one level.
'One Touch' is being released very early on in Sugababes' career. Chances are some of you out there still haven't heard much of the girls. You will. At the risk of giving
them the musical equivalent of shin-splints by putting them in the first team too early, this record announces the arrival of potentially one of the most important new groups
for many years. If they carry on singing this well, we'll even forgive them for not talking to us!
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