G.R.L.’s Self-Titled Debut EP Is Pretty G.R.E.A.T., Actually (Review)
When you think about it, it should be all systems G.O. with G.R.L.
The Robin Antin-curated, Dr. Luke-helmed fivesome — made up of an X Factor USA finalist (Simone Battle), an ex-Paradiso Girl (Lauren Bennett) a slay-sational actress (Natasha Slayton), a former Canadian pop starlet (Emmalyn Estrada) and a dancer who STARRED IN BURLESQUE (Paula van Oppen) — has been polished and primped to perfection for what feels like approximately a decade, beginning with the release of their Smurfs 2 soundtrack anthem last June, “Vacation.” (Remember Britney‘s iconic Awkwardney introduction to the troupe?)
They began to hit their stride by doing what it takes for most artists to break — hopping on a Pitbull track! — with their rollicking “Wild Wild Love,” which scratched the Top 30 at the start of 2014. But it wasn’t until earlier this month, as the girls got carted off and thrown in the slammer in their (sadly Orange Is The New Black-unrelated) jail-themed video for “Ugly Heart” that the G.R.L.s got to truly be themselves, free of soundtrack obligations or features.
The stomping kiss-off anthem really ought to have been an all-out radio smash, as it fits squarely in between ‘EDM’ and that jangly Mumford & Sons-laced folk-pop happening over the past year. It’s sassy, chant-friendly and entirely quotable (“It’s such a pity, a boy so pretty with an ugly heart!“) And that yelping bridge? Everything! Yet they’ve still not managed to quite connect.
Perhaps, however, the girls’ debut self-titled EP will breathe new life into the campaign. (At least, it should.)
The G.R.L. EP, released today, is a punchy, fresh 5-track collection of modern girl group pop.
After kicking off with “Ugly Heart,” there’s the swirling, “ay-yay-yay!“-heavy “Show Me What You Got,” which was originally released months ago on a NOW compilation — that one’s okay.
Better, though, is “Rewind” a burst of #SomethingMoreUrban electro-pop that comes much closer to fulfilling the dreams of Pussycat Dolls 2.0 conjured when the troupe first debuted. “If you want this love, say you won’t give up!” the girls shout across tripping drums and a warm synth gloss. “Baby, why don’t we just press rewind?”
The most exciting new cut of the bunch, though, is “Don’t Talk About Love,” a gritty, rock-tinged ode to hot NSA fun: “Cut my initials in the dash with my stilettos, so you’ll know,” the girls viciously growl across the propulsive pulse as they crank up the stereo and climb into the backseat to get rude. “Just don’t talk about love! Don’t mess it up!” they warn as the beat builds faster and harder to a frenzy, only to come crashing down to a chilly beat drop. It brings the gritty, girls-gone-wild nature of Girls Aloud circa What Will The Neighbours Say? to mind — killer hooks, sharp stilettos and free-for-all fun.
“Girls Are Always Right” rounds out the mini-set, providing an anthemic, piano-laced midtempo middle finger in the air to a dude doing them wrong, providing an always necessary dose of cheeky #GIRLPOWER in a post-Spice Girls landscape. “Even if we’re wrong/Girls are always right!” the G.R.L.s mightily declare. Can’t hold ’em down!
It simply ain’t easy being a girl group in America in 2014: Just ask most any of them, from Little Mix to The Saturdays to Fifth Harmony to Neon Jungle. That’s just the kind of pop climate we’re in at the moment.
That being said, the G.R.L. girls are giving it their best shot — and their best, as it turns out, is pretty great.
‘G.R.L. EP’ was released on July 29. (iTunes)