Ever since Texas were welcomed back into the foldof British pop in 1997, theirs has been a story ofconsistent success. The three albums since theirreturn have sold by the bucketload, their singlesracking up huge airplay, with Sharleen proving anever-visible promotional asset – not to mention thedistinctive voice of the band.
For this is her show, no doubt about it. But itwould be churlish not to recognise the contribution ofthe other band members. Between them they lift RedBook above the status of predictable follow-up to avibrant record that genuinely moves their style ofmusic forward.
This is most evident in the subtle electro touchesadded to drums and bass, sounds that give tracks likeGet Down Tonight an extra sassy strut towards thedancefloor. Meanwhile, the slower songs also benefitfrom these trimmings, with What About Us transformedinto a thing of vulnerable beauty, Sharleen singing asimple yet uncertain melody.
The singles Getaway and Can’t Resist are Texas bynumbers – not a criticism, more a note that these guysonly have to turn up to have a serviceable anthem ortwo on their hands. Can’t Resist might grate a bit,however, with Spiteri’s potentially irritating vocalslides, but in truth this is an album where her voicesounds more assured than ever, a hint of falsetto nowand then complimenting her full tone.
Once again the production is as glossy as a woman’smonthly, layer upon layer added to the mix,occasionally threatening to smother AllyMcErlaine’s well-crafted guitar work. On the rareoccasions this is pared down, it’s easier tointeract with Sharleen’s vocal, the verses of WhatAbout Us a prime example.
A standout track is the duet between Spiteri andBlue Nile front man Paul Buchanan on thewarmly intimate Sleep. You would be hard pushed torecognise Buchanan’s voice in this tender love song,and you might baulk at the lyrics too – whileSharleen’s terms of endearment; “I think that you’rethe one” are fine, the exultation of the chorus to;”let me sleep, so I can dream of you” sounds a littlecontrived, one eye on a high chart placingperhaps.
That shouldn’t mask the overall quality, though, andthe final, title track is a torchbearer, an ultimatelyuplifting close. Rather than come back with more ofthe same, Texas now have more of an edge, with evenmore style for the current pop climate. It suits themwell.