Here's a challenge for the cynics amongst you: Wonderland arrive courtesy of a reality TV show (nope - nor me) in which Louis Walsh and Westlife's Kian Egan auditioned over 3000 hopefuls for a new girl band. Mmm. Okay. Well, we'll ignore Walsh's legendary cack-handedness in this very sector, as demonstrated every other year on 'X Factor', and we'll even turn a blind eye to the fact that ex-'Hollyoaks' actress Jodi Albert made the grade despite being married to one of the judges. (I'll let you work out which one.) But we'll home in on their dreary album like a cat on a kipper because Jodi, Sharon, Corrina, Kasey and Leigh (research!) may look fantastic and, to be fair, even sound pretty damn good but they've been handed a set of songs that would stretch even the patience of the Saturday night phone-in crowd. Unable to decide whether to go with the epic balladeering they've almost monopolised or tap into the country-lite AOR of the likes of Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum (whose 'Need You Know' is covered here), their handlers fudge it and plump for an unconvincing hotch-potch of both. It's far from thrilling. 'Why Here, Why Now' stands out, if only because whoever takes lead vocals avoids the de rigueur Americanised inflexions (seriously - you'd struggle to pin them down as 4/5 Irish) and sings out in thrillingly unsullied soprano. Beyond that, it's all a bit too safe for its own good; the young consumer, raised on a diet racier than this, may find the focus on actual singing a bit quaint. And so breaking a new girl group remains the music business equivalent of nailing jelly to the ceiling. On this evidence The Saturdays, whose Chasing Lights was so much more fun than this calculated collection, can rest easy keeping shop until you know who return.



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