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Album Review: Stooshe – London With The Lights On

Photo: Last.fm

Somehow, the filthiest and rudest girlband on the block (they even put Girlicious to shame), have managed to become a household name. With a massive makeover from the last time I featured them, the Stooshe girls have become child and mainstream friendly – the expletives are gone and the radio-ready catchiness has risen tenfold. Initially, I didn’t want to mention the train wreck that was the ‘Waterfalls’ campaign, a track that almost halted the girls before they’d even began – it did however prove to be a vital learning curve for the girls as ‘Stooshe’, their rather weak debut, evolved into the album we have here, ‘London With The Lights On’, which, despite only a few changes, is infinitely better.

‘Put The Kettle On’ and ‘Slip’ prove that it was definitely worth the wait – two of the new tracks stand out instantly as highlights from the record with the former notching up the best chorus this side of the singles. ‘Slip’ was criminally underrated upon it’s release – it is everything the new, censored Stooshe are all about; a touch of class, bags of attitude and a massive hit to bring it all together. Elsewhere on the record, ‘Hoochi Mumma’ is a marmite-jam that is given life by the brilliant and hilarious ad-libs. ‘Kiss Chase’ is a fantastic pop romp with a twinkling key section in it’s post-chorus and ‘See Me Like This’ proves that Stooshe can do serious and classy, even with those endearing common-as-muck accents.

In a post-Girls Aloud universe, ballads are rocky ground for girlbands to tread. It’s so easy to slip into the bland and boring, as the Wonderland girls might tell you. The two slower tunes that spring to mind are the dull but lyrically resonating ‘Your Own Kind Of Beautiful’ and it’s opposite, ‘Perfectly Wrong’, which has a tired lyrical formula but a winning chorus thanks to it’s sultry string section and addictive vocal hooks. Though the rest of the album is above average, the tragic ‘My Man Music’ brings a Cha-Cha Slide-esque hook in which the girls sound bored and uninterested. In a world where Stooshe started out as intrinsically cool, I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘My Man Music’ ends up being something they refuse to speak of in the future. Quite a shame really as an early Rihanna feel coloured the tunes backing track and the reggae-infused beat is a perfect compliment to the summer.

There is bags of potential on ‘London With The Lights On’ – if you look at it as a stepping stone into a successful career, it’s much more inviting. The second-to-none vocals, the gorgeous harmonies and a sound that is entirely their own – they do have a lot going for them. Though it has flaws and can’t seem to work out whether it’s serious and retro or current and comedic, it has a mish-mash of styles that, admittedly, seem to match the girls themselves. They bring a lot to the plate and when it’s been thinned out into a specific vision, Stooshe will be able to shine a whole lot brighter.

Whilst ‘London With The Lights On’ is anything but a lazy effort, it does leave a lot of work to be done in order to secure themselves a place on the commercial music scene. As it stands, at this point in their career, we needed to be given an album full of enormous number one hits, but it seems like the promo and the winning personalities of the ladies themselves will have to do the trick as whilst ‘London With The Lights On’ is a valiant and warm effort, it doesn’t quite make the most of the incredible potential that Alex, Courtney and Karis possess.

Photo: Last.fm
Words: Simon McMurdo

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