The Saturdays - Chasing Lights
The surprise of the year, and a genuine delight, the debut album from The Saturdays is as good a slab of pure chart pop as I've heard this year. After two top ten hits ('If This is Love' and the ubiquitous 'Up') and now the fact that their debut album has actually been released (say hello, Clea and The Faders), it does appear, even at this early stage, the latest girl group to try to muscle in on a market owned by Girls Aloud and Sugababes might actually grab a share of it. I wish them luck; 'Chasing Lights' is smartly conceived (the songs are well up to scratch) and brilliantly executed (these girls can sing - I mean, really sing.) Packed full of hooks that snag you in an instant and harmonies that shimmer, 'Chasing Lights' is not quite as laudably schizophrenic as the new Girls Aloud album but it beats the living daylights out of the new one from the increasingly bland and frumpy Sugababes.
Those first two singles kick it all into life and you wait for the inevitable dip. But beyond a couple of non-blinders, quality control is genuinely high. 'Issues', the first of only a couple of ballads, comes with an unexpectedly acid chorus ("Me and my heart we got issues/Don't know if I should hate you or miss you/Damn I wish that I could resist you/Can't decide if I should slap you or kiss you".) The swooping title track mainlines Natalie Imbruglia. 'Keep Her' and 'Vulnerable' deliver hooks with harmonies that raise cynical eyebrows. 'Why Me, Why Now', the album closer, steps away from the predominant production approach (jerky electronica) in favour of indie guitar stylings. It all works so well, you pinch yourself over and over.
My promo disc tells me little beyond their names; Frankie, Rochelle, Una, Vanessa and Molly. The first two were S Club Juniors, the others consist of a 'songwriter', a failed X Factor boot-camper and a Sylvia Young graduate. To be honest, I couldn't care less about their provenance. They look cool as hell, at least three of them can properly belt it out and the songs from this marvellously modern-sounding album have been stuck in my head for weeks. 'Chasing Lights' is a revelation and I love it. Deal with it.