This crew, comprising ten 17-year-olds from East London, first emerged in 2000 and, despite a Number One single, Crossroads, have struggled to be taken seriously. Although they have had a string of other hits, the Squad’s debut album In The Beginning, didn’t exactly set the charts alight.
This follow-up, however, is a much more polished affair, suggesting that the Squad, who have a reported 66 GCSEs between them, won’t need to go back to school just yet. They should also be able to shrug off the rather unkind, if inevitable, comparisons with that other group of chart-topping teens with attitude, Musical Youth.
The album has been trailed by the single Flip Reverse, revealing a harder, urban edge to the crew’s sound. Yet the Squad have their softer side too. Thinking About You should be the next single off the album, and is a sure-fire hit, if a mite slushy. The same goes for Biggest Fan, guaranteed to be a hit with female admirers of the Squad. It’s a touch predictable perhaps, but a nice inversion on the usual fan-pop band relationship fare. Rather more disposable is Ride – the kindest thing you can say about this track is that, at a shade over three minutes, it certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome.
The biggest surprise is probably Revolution, a reworking and updating of the old T.Rex track Children Of The Revolution, which is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Not only will this piece of nostalgia warm the heart of many an ageing ex- glam rock teenybopper, there’s also enough attitude to keep teenagers happy who otherwise wouldn’t be seen dead grooving to their parents’ record collection.
Opening track Here 4 One might also set you wondering if you’d put the wrong disc in, at least for the first 30 seconds. A classical piano intro dissolves into an insistent garagey groove and there’s even a touch of opera in the middle-eight. Rather more predictable is Biggest Fan, a slab of sub-Prince funk, and Baby It’s The Weekend, a fun piece of Saturday night R&B froth.
Although fans are going to have to wait until next year for a glimpse of the Blazin’ Squad live in concert – dates scheduled for this winter have been postponed because of “extensive studio commitments” apparently – on the evidence of this album they won’t be disappointed.