Thursday, 22 November 2018

Little Mix LM5 Review: "Best Album Yet"

Sometimes it's difficult to remember that Little Mix are the same band who were on the 8th series of the UK X Factor, and went on to win. When I think back to that series? How I was one of those people who couldn't understand how they won and doubted their ability to be in it for the long haul? My how the tables turn comes to mind. The pop world might have been too caught up in One Direction pandemonium and jumping on the Fifth Harmony train, but I don't think it's a coincidence that Little Mix are the only real band to come out of X Factor and not only sustain success, but prove the doubters wrong and with every new album, pick up new fans.

"Salute" is a fan fave album but that didn't translate into sales, whilst "Get Weird" was a massive success sales wise and that formula was carried over into "Glory Days" which was also a success, yet both albums tend to be panned by fans as being too Pop friendly, childish lyrics and a lack of replay value. "LM5" will probably continue to divide opinion, but it feels like a natural progression for the band.

It sounds more grown up and mixes different genres of music, with the RNB elements from "Salute" shining through on certain tracks. If you've ever listened or watched an acoustic performance, then you'll know that Little Mix can absolutely serve vocals and "LM5" is the first album that really allows all four girls to show off their vocal talents.

I don't really have anything to say about 'Woman Like Me' outside understanding that a collaboration with Nicki Minaj is something the girls have always been vocal in wanting, but the version without her that is available on corners of the web is far better. 'Think About Us' is a mid-tempo banger that will certainly get you moving on the dance floor, and when you listen to 'Strip'? It's difficult to understand the logic in not having that as the lead single. I understand a collab with Nicki Minaj is radio friendly and certainly bagged Little Mix commercial acclaim as well as landing them in the middle of a feud between Nick and Cardi B but 'Strip' would've been an excellent introduction to the album since it shows off how much the band have grown up, and is a fairly empowering song and anyone who knows Little Mix knows they're all about empowerment even if their videos and lyrics don't always get that message across correctly.

Whilst most of the album might be upbeat, it does have a couple of ballads because what album is complete without them and 'Monster In Me' is a pretty great one. Musically it reminds me a little of 'Towers' from "Salute" and sees the girls singing about matters of the heart. 'Joan of Arc' is a song that has featured in a previous #NewMusicFriday so I'm not going to comment too much more on it, it's an extremely weird song that depending on your mood you'll either love or hate.

Growing up as a kid in the 90's the likes of Destiny's Child 'Bootylicious' and Siquo's 'Thong Song' were the types of songs that made parents scream with horror and ban kids from listening to, so when someone did manage to sneak a copy of the song into school we all felt completely scandalized and that might be why 'Love A Girl Right' is such a terrific song. It heavily samples 'Thong Song' and whilst sampling or reimagining a song isn't anything new in a day and age where Halsey loves Justin Timberlake 'Cry Me A River' so much she sampled it on 'Without Me' what Little Mix do with 'Love A Girl Right' feels unique because they've just got their own way of doing these things which works so well even when it sometimes shouldn't.

'American Boy' is a good enough song even if it doesn't light the world on fire, and the chorus is probably the best part of the song. 'Told You So' is another ballad and another song that was released in the build-up to the album. It's quite an emotional song with echoes of Destiny Child's 'Emotions' as it sees the girls coming together to comfort a friend in the aftermath of a break-up, pointing out everything wrong with their ex and promising to never point out how right they were over the relationship being doomed from the start. 'Wasabi' is the 'Down and Dirty' of "LM5"; truly terrible in places lyrically but excellent musically. 'More than Words' is another ballad of sorts and another song that is more focused on the friendship side of things than the relationship side, and works all the better for it. Little Mix have always been vocal on the fact they work so well together because they have a genuine sense of affection for each other, something that is clearly visible in any live performance, and that's why songs like this work brilliantly for them.

'Motivate' is another song that lends itself to the RNB/Hip Hop genre. It's a song that would be more suited to the likes of Rihanna and Ariana Grande, but the true sign of how far an Artist has come since they first started out is being able to branch out into different types of music. It keeps you and your sound fresh, and whilst Little Mix doing a song like this is out the realm, they handle it well so it doesn't feel completely out of place with them. 'Notice' is of a similar notion and sounds like a part two of Ariana Grande's 'Dangerous Woman'. One could say for a band that sings and talk a lot about empowerment, having so many songs that focus on relationships and sex flies in the face of that, but people need to remember that Little Mix are four growing women and relationships is an aspect that musicians have been singing about since the dawn of time.

'The Cure' is the best ballad on the album and sounds even better stripped down. It's a song that's been on repeat since it was first released after the Apple Event earlier this week, and only grows in replay value the more you listen to it. 'Forget You Not' is a song that some fans will be familiar with as Perrie Edwards posted a video of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dancing along to the song in a car. It's thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish and among the top 5 tracks on the album. 'Woman's World' completes the album. It's an interesting song that as the title suggests, takes a look at the world from a woman's viewpoint and appeals for change in how women are treated. It's a powerful message with lyrics to match, but musically it feels like a mismatch. Stripped back or even acoustically the song would work and allow the listener to feel the emotion that the song is portraying and take a second look at the world we live in since the song is quite topical in its nature, instead of feeling so muddled with far too much going on especially as the song reaches its climax.

"LM5" is Little Mix's best album to date. It has a grown up feel to it, next to no filler and even the songs that aren't quite as impressive and still a great listen. "Glory Days" spent 69 weeks in the British charts with all five singles going Platinum and there's absolutely no reason for "LM5" to not be as successful. The band are 5 albums in and showing no signs of slowing down, and Pop music is all the better for it.

Top 5 Songs: Strip, Forget You Not, Wasabi, Love a Girl Right, The Cure.