Girls Aloud: Out Of Control (Review)

They’re untouchable.

It is Friday, October 31st, approximately five days since the Great Leak of ’08. Scouring my “Recently Played” list this afternoon, it has dawned on me (with a great deal of terror and a slight tingle of pride) that I have quite literally only listened to Girls Aloud‘s Out Of Control for the entire week. No Britney, no Kylie. Like, literally…Only Aloud. I simply cannot get enough of the new album, and there’s nothing to suggest that I’ll be stopping anytime soon.

Now, according to my calculations, I can officially deem the album as 93% perfect. By and large however, I’ve found that people aren’t pleased with numbers alone…They need facts. Cold, hard ones. So I’m going to go ahead with the usual track-by-track to deduce the particular moments of brilliance within each second of the Girl’s fifth gem (Sorry…Sixth for Absolutists.)

Come along then, yes? Click “Read More…” to see!

001. The Promise – We’ve all heard it, and if you haven’t yet, check the top slot of the U.K. Singles Charts right now. Gorgeous, shimmering ’60’s-tinged Glam-O-Rama with a bucketful of glittering, ’80’s TV theme extravagance. The album features a few slight improvements found in the first and last seconds: The triple kick into the “One! Two! Three! Four!” introduction is a much needed moment of preparation, while the gloriously vocoded repetition of “Maybe next time I’ll take a ride on by…” at the song’s end makes the sting of the single version’s drop-out ending fade away. It’s a real beaut.

Choice lyric: “Here I am, walking Primrose / Wondering when I’m gonna see you again.”

002. The Loving Kind – Produced by the Pet Shop Boys, (a ‘nuff said sort of statement) “The Loving Kind” is the stuff of dreams. Two absolute titans of pop, one veteran and one rising, Girls Aloud and Pet Shop Boys were made to collaborate. It is textbook Sad Disco, providing enough echoey splendor to fill the shimmery stilletos of last year’s Sad Disco entry, Kylie Minogue‘s “The One.” If the ghostly synth sounds don’t already get to you, Nicola will, thanks to that “I’d do anything” bit following the chorus. Heaven!

Choice lyric: “I’ll buy you flowers, I’ll pour you wine, do anything to change your mind / I know you may be disinclined, to find the love we’ve left behind, so kiss me and make up your mind, I’m not the loving kind.”

003. Rolling Back The Rivers In Time – So this is the silly one, though that could probably could have been deduced from the title. Problem with this one is that Nadine’s glorious, torch-ready introduction builds the track’s expectations to impossible heights, so when the goofy chorus “Ah-ooh” comes a-tumblin‘ in, I don’t think anyone can claim to be too impressed. Nonetheless, it’s a bit lush in parts…I can’t quite dislike it, though it does quality as the album’s “skipper.” Would anyone else call this the “Wild Horses” moment of the album?

Choice lyric: “Doesn’t really matter, I found nothing better at all / Sendin‘ him a letter, I know I won’t regret it at all / Doesn’t really matter, a miracle can happen for sure . I’d rather wait forever babe, then never have it at all.”

004. Love Is The Key – Oh man. Aside from the ghoulish moans in the first few seconds, that “UhOhUhsynth sound in the background is simply irresistable. I can see this one as a single down the line, as it gives off a sort of “Can’t Speak French” vibe. Not quite complete or entirely polished, the track goes on a bit longer than it should. Nonetheless, it’s crucial. I’ m already picturing a Western-themed ho-down. Cheryl in chaps, Sarah riding the mechanical bull, Kimberely doing a Coyote Ugly bit at the bar…Make it happen, Polydor.

Choice lyric: “I’m Mocha Choca latte, you’re more espresso shot / Life and soul of the party, it’s safe to say you’re not / I lean towards fiction, but you deal with fact / Don’t mind the friction, ’cause opposites attract.”

005. Turn To Stone – Lusciousness. As soon as the synths kicked in, I had a near panic attack. Polished, slick, pure ’80’s electro taunting complete with a killer, ringer-ready chorus. It’s minimalist in a way, but I’m by no means bored. Love it, need it…give me more.

Choice lyric: “So don’t turn away, or you’ll see me turn to stone.”

006. Untouchable – Right about here’s where the situation was taken from out of my hands. First of all, the song clocks in at an incredible 6:45, which should have been a clue of its immenisty. After forty seconds of haunting, pensive electro tones…Nicola, saving the day yet again with her paper-thin, innocent delivery. Sublime verses. By the time Nadine comes in with that chorus, it’s all over. The girls have simply brought their sound to the next level here. Then there’s the middle eight! No words. By that point, I was standing, staring at the speakers in disbelief. Shining moment of the album, etc. Enough said.

Choice lyric: “Whenever you’re gone, gone, they wait at the door / And everything’s hurting like a bore / Without any meaning, we’re just skin and bone / Like beautiful robots dancing alone.”

007. Fix Me Up – What the…? Must be Kimberley on those opening vocals. I kid. Love, love, love this one. A feisty little dish, which isn’t really one of the Aloud’s specialties. Apparently, choosing a time of day isn’t either. “‘Yo baby, fix me up, ’til the middle of the morning evening.” What time are we talking about ladies? The Aloud aren’t usually directly sexy, so I could see this one rubbing the fans the wrong way. I’d call it the “Watch Me Go” or “Fling” moment because of it’s in-your-face sex attack.

Choice lyric: “Oh baby, come sex me up, ’cause I’m feeling like I want you, ooh.”

008. Love Is Pain – Love’s a dirty, dirty whore, and a popular title word this time around for the Girls. As brilliant as the other “Love” tracks, “Love Is Pain” is a strong, strong track, another contender for single material. Demonstrating the Aloud’s continued free-fall into dark, cold material, the track stings with chilly, distant vocals. Christmas single?

Choice lyric: “Love is pain, oh oh oh oh / You’re insane, oh oh oh oh / Feel like I wipe you.”

009. Miss You Bow Wow – Perhaps one of their catchiest yet, the melodies of “Miss You Bow Wow” harken back to the hand-claps and dance steps of a classic ’60’s beach party flick. Lots of jittery moments tailor made for late night sing-a-long’s, combined with a smashing collection of signature Aloud cheeky lyrics. If you hit the “I remember…” bits without wanting to wail it out off the top of your lungs, you’re simply refusing to live.

Choice lyric: “I remember living that dream / Twenty minutes in a hotel bar / And I slip into your girlfriends jeans.”

010. Revolution In The Head – Ho ho ho! The reggae-inspired intro threw me off, similar to hearing “The Hook Up” off Britney‘s In The Zone. Tinged with some new grooves, the song is nevertheless purely Aloud. I expected more “rapping” from Nadine according to the press reports, but I’m still happy with the end result. Not sure what to make of the lyrics. Are we getting political here?

Choice lyric: “Revolution in the head don’t count for nothing /You gotta, you gotta move that ass.”

011. Live In The Country – Alright, Girls…Getting a bit silly again. I’m not entirely in love with this track, partially because of the subject matter, and partially because of the sound. I mean, animal sounds? The guitar synths are a smidge 2004 Aloud too, marking the first time I’ve felt like the girls were moving backward with their sound. Then again, it is a bit darker. The bridges are excellent!

Choice lyric: “I want the ducks, and a lake, and a family portrait /A pipe and a dog at my feet /I want a stall at the fete selling strawberry shortcake / And walls that are very discrete.”

012. We Wanna Party – Who’s idea was this one? A Lene cover? I bet this is Sarah’s fault. It’s not even a poor track, it just reeks of “bonus track.” Nothing much to say of it…Could have easily been traded for “She” or any other b-side, really.

Choice lyric: “We wanna party but we got no love.”

All in all, I couldn’t be happier. There’s growth, there’s maturity, and there’s evolution in sound. A darker, grimmer sound at that, perfect for the ghoulish times. As with most of the Aloud’s releases, each track could make a strong case for itself to become a future single. Xenomania and Girls Aloud have crafted themselves quite the niche, proving to test and stretch each other’s artistic possibilites with each album…They’re simply unstoppable.

Unique to Out Of Control is the increased diversity in vocals from each girl, with the underdogs making themselves more apparent than ever. In fact, it is Nicola who happens to dominate a majority of the album’s brightest moments of brilliance, whileSarah’s usual screech-tastic songstressing actually works in her favor for the most part.

I’m so proud of my ladies, not only for making another album chock full of smash hit pop charms, but for never losing sight of that signature Aloud formula…This is classic stuff. Girls Aloud is the greatest girl group of all time, so hop on board already, fools.

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