Album review: Sugababes - Catfights & spotlights

Album review: Sugababes - Catfights & spotlights | Random J Pop

With a title like Catfights & spotlights I was expecting something special from the girls. But the second I saw that horrendous album cover above and heard the bullshit that is "Girls", I knew the 'babes were in deep doo-doo. And having listened to the album, I was 100% right.

The Sugababes are known for breaking a bit of ground when it comes to their lead singles: always coming with something you wouldn't expect from them and a song that only these girls themselves could pull off. So I was shocked and a more than a tad disappointed when I heard their lead single from Catfights & spotlights: "Girls". Throwaway garbage which heavily samples a song that everybody recognises from a Boots TV advert. I'd expect shit like this from Girls aloud, but not the Sugababes. It's awful. I have no love for the song. Songs like this shouldn't be what the Sugababes are about and doesn't showcase them well at all.

The second song on the album thankfully brings the quality level up a few notches. "You on a good day" is a solid song, and probably one of the best on the album, with it being the only song which recaptures that old skool Sugababes sass that made the girls stand out in the first place. The girls all sound great on this song and get equal mic time, with no one girl standing out in particular. This would make a great single. God knows why their record label decided to follow up the awful "Girls" with the even worse "No one can do".

Catfights & spotlights is divided between into four genre's. Rubbish R&B, Pop, rock ballads and 60s swing. Aside from the aforementioned "You on a good day", all of the 60s tracks are shit. They play up to that whole big band bandwagon that everybody in the music game decided to jump on ever since Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson brought it back to popularity with the album Back to black. The babes don't sell the sound all that well and the results being cringe worthy.
The rock ballads bring more of what Three fans know and love. "Unbreakable heart", "Sunday rain", "Every broken heart" and "Sound of goodbye" all tow the same line that "Too lost in you" and "Caught in a moment" did in 2003. They're good songs, but they do sound samey when you've got 'em lumped on an album back to back, with nothing really standing out between them.

The pop tracks are hit and miss. "Hanging on a star" is shitty and again, sounds like some Girls aloud bullshit. But "Nothing's as good as you" is hot, sounding like a slower more down played version of "Denial" from the girls' Change album. This should definitely be considered as a future single. The R&B tracks are whack. The Sugababes should NEVER do R&B, because it doesn't suit them. "Side chick" sounds like your cliched crap with piano tinkles and shifting drums and knocking 808s and "Can we call a truce" is mid tempo garbage which features beatboxing.

The problem with this album is that nothing stands out. Every song sounds the same and bleeds into a mess of sounds. First off, they should leave the 60's sound to today's contemporaries who can actually pull it off well, such as Amy Winehouse and Duffy. The style doesn't suit the Sugababes at all as it feels to contrived, and contrived is never a term you'd ever use to describe the Sugababes' sound on past albums.

Album review: Sugababes - Catfights & spotlights | Random J Pop

One of the many problems with Catfights & spotlights is that the Sugababes do not sound hungry any more. Where as Angels with dirty faces, Three and Taller in more ways had the girls sounding hungry for that title as one of the most unique and best sounding girl groups, it now feels like they're phoning in their performances. Amelle shines every now and then, which is no doubt a bid to prove herself as 'the new girl'. But Keisha over sings as she always does and Heidi just fades into the background and sounds as though she truly cannot be bothered. The girls also don't share equal writing credits on this album as they have done in the past. Everything about this album signals that things aren't all right in the Sugababes camp and that we won't get many more albums from them. If fans feel the way I do, then they'll just reside with the fact that the girls have lost the spark and sass that made them hot in the first place. Their shit fell off the day Mutya left.

The girls chose to work with a new team of songwriters and producers which I applaud them for. But they've done this at the expense of causing a complete shift in sound which doesn't work. If the throwback vibe with hints of funk was what the girls were going for, then they should've waited longer and booked those sessions with Timbaland, Cee-Lo green and Andre 3000. They would've possibly injected the sense of fun this album lacks.

Catfights & spotlights is a terrible album. As somebody who used to stan for these girls, I'm shocked that their music has plummeted to such depths. The B-sides from every one of their singles released from their past 4 albums are all leagues ahead of the strongest cuts on Catfights & spotlights. Of that there is no question. The girls need to announce the split and then embark on solo careers which are doomed to fail. It's a real shame that a girl group who used to be SO good seem to have fallen off so badly.

RATING: 3 / 10

Album highlights:
■ You on a good day
■ Unbreakable heart
■ Every heart broken
■ Nothing's as good as you ★ J's fave
■ Sound of goodbye


Anonymous said…
I was wondering when you were going to review this album as one of the first entries I read of yours on this site is the announcement of the album title and your thoughts on it.

Great review, I'm not surprise that, apparently, it's their worst selling album since their debut. The Sugababes aren't my favourite group but I respected them as they wrote their own stuff, always sounded unique yet didn't result to feeling each other up and be all sexy to get noticed (like most girl acts now do...hell a male group could just stick a female into the vid and you'll find her acting all porno!) Now they seem to have gone off the rails.

I didn't mind "About You Now" but the rest of their work since Mutya left has not the same. As you said, shame to see a strong girl group go down like this.

P.S. Heidi looks like she's got a black eye on the album cover!