Here at TMF Towers we know our girl bands. And we like what we know. See our unstinting support for nary-a-foot-put-wrong Girls Aloud, our fondness for The Saturdays (well, at least until they swapped peachy pop for the urban dance conveyor) and our…well, tolerance for Sugababes. (If you found out their latest re-shuffle saw them staffed by Kym Marsh, Myleene Klass and Suzanne Shaw, you'd surely not bat an eyelid.) So, while X Factor hopefuls Little Mix take the novel approach of winning favour via a combination of what appears to be character and talent, what hope for anyone else securing that precious fourth spot with the girl band cartel? (More of a ring-fenced sub-economy, all told.)
Now here come Parade: Emily, Sian, Bianca, Jessica and Lauren. The latest of what seems like a dozen or more recent attempts to ‘do a Saturdays’, their likeable debut is all boisterous glitz and smart beats. Vocally, they’re not half bad and we can’t fail to have noticed that they’re trying to make their mark the hard way – ie. bounce about all over the shop (literally, as far as gig venues are concerned) and work their backsides off. They’re best when, as on the likes of ‘Shoes’ or ‘Rokstar’, they whip up a storm. The ballads confirm they can hit the right notes, sure, but the slower material edges towards bland. Which, to be fair, Parade, works hard to avoid and, to its credit, largely manages.