All Saints - Red Flag
History hasn't always been the kindest to All Saints. Their run of success in the 90s was somewhat overshadowed by the Spice Girls, and Nicole Appleton's relationships with Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher. With hindsight they were way better than Posh Spice's lot, better songwriters, better singers, and with a back catalogue to be proud of. That is was all a bit tarnished by a messy, and petty, break-up (apparently over who wore what jacket in a video), and then not helped at all by their terrible 2006 comeback: just for the money. Still ten years on the foursome seem to have grown up, and grown closer again.
But that's the past, what about the future. Or more accurately, the current. And the lead single 'One Strike' is a humdinger of a start and the perfect way to introduce Red Flag. And it's mainly good news all round, this is a return to the tracksuit trouser, trainer wearing form of the late 90s. There's an element of edge that their contemporaries never had: the bass beats of 'Summer Rain' vibrate your core, 'This Is War' is all luscious production and simmering anger
It's not a complete smash though, 'Who Hurt Who' is syrupy and dull, 'Fear' is a little lightweight, and the faux drum 'n' bass of 'Ratchet Behaviour' is just plain terrible. The title track and 'Tribal' pull it back somewhat. The best of the twelve tracks are definitely weighted towards the front which brings to mind a former England football manager's summary of a performance: "First half good, second half not so good." And so it goes.