The late, unlamented Hear’say may have won the Popstars crown, but it’s Liberty X who have proved the more durable act and this album, the follow-up to last year’s multi-platinum Thinking It Over, proves there’s still plenty of gas in the tank.
Kicking off with a rather cheesy and unnecessary intro, the album moves straight into high gear with the monster hit singles, Jumpin’ and Being Nobody, and rarely lets the pace flag throughout the remaining 13 tracks.
Of course it’s been put together by a veritable army of arrangers, writers and producers but, unusually, this clinical approach results in some of the most memorable pop tunes you are ever likely to hear.
Two tracks, in particular, stand out. Everybody Cries is a high-calibre ballad that would make an excellent Bond theme (certainly better than Madonna‘s dire effort for Die Another Day) and The Poet has a pleasingly folky feel, with an underlay of African-style drumming, that contrasts perfectly with the pop-based R&B that pervades much of the album.
Elsewhere, Close Your Eyes is the kind of funky pop number Michael Jackson used to produce in his sleep but would kill for today; Story of My Life and Take Me Home have a pleasingly Latin lilt and I’ll Be Remembering has a slinky, sexy R ‘N’ B groove reminiscent of TLC. Let Go rocks out, providing welcome variation to the pace of the album and Maybe is a power ballad that showcases fine vocal performances from Kelli and Kevin.
There’s clearly more talent in this outfit than might have been expected. One especially hopeful sign for the band’s future development is the emergence of Tony as a songwriter. Watcha Doin’ Tonight may bear a passing resemblance to a Christina Aguilera number but it’s a stomping dance floor filler in its own right. It also provides an intriguing commentary on the ordinary lives that the band have left behind, although the slight hint of condescension to the band’s fans should be worrying. Losing touch with the concerns of the fanbase may be an inevitable by-product of the cocoon of celebrity the band now finds itself in, but it has proved the downfall of countless pop acts.
That’s for the future however. Right now this should be acknowledged as a major achievement, perhaps the best pure pop album since The Spice Girls‘ debut. A guilty pleasure, maybe, but where’s the harm in that?