Album review: Sugababes - Sweet 7

Album review: Sugababes - Sweet 7 | Random J Pop

I was bitter about the whole line-up change situation which this album will forever be associated with. But I figured if the music was still good, I would roll with things. After the album sampler featuring half of Sweet 7's tracks leaked some months back, I was weary. Because the songs on it sounded a bit shitty. I held reserve that the additional half of the album could pick up the slack, but nope. It doesn't. Now presenting what could possibly be one of the Sugababes worst albums.

The Sugababes songs were always unique. The girls and their team of writers and producers always did a great job of crafting credible pop songs that you were not afraid to say you liked. Bridging the gap between old skool sounds from the 90s and something very much contemporary. Somewhere along the way the Sugababes formula began to turn out musical trash, and what we're now left with is an album of songs which sound are the complete antithesis of what the Sugababes were originally about. The Sugababes are lost amongst auto-tune, shoddy production, outdated music sales, Amelle's common chanting and riding bandwagons with the wheel hanging half-way off.

Let's start with the not so bad (but most of which still suck) songs of the album, which are shunted into the second half of the long play. "Give it to me now" sounds very similar to the Sugababes B-side "Shake it", and would've fit nicely amongst the iffy 60's tempered sound of Catfights & spotlights. The song is okay...I guess. But the Sugababes don't have the vocal sass to pull this song off as it was intended. There's really nothing sexy about this song. In in the 2 minutes and 58 seconds I was listening to it, I didn't once feel the urge to want dance nor give any of the 'Sugababes' anything but a wave goodbye. "Crash & burn" is a really nice song, and is one of the first songs on the album where the Sugababes we once loved begin to come through in some form. The song sounds like a fusion of Rihanna's "Fire bomb" and pretty much everything Ryan 'Everything I produce for the charts has to sound like Beyoncé's "Halo"' Tedder has produced over the past couple of years. But it is a really nice song, keeping in line with the likes of "Follow me home", "Mended by you" and "Change". "No more you" is produced by Stargate and written by Ne-Yo. Not that you'd need me to tell you this: you can hear the tell tale signs of this before the chorus comes in. The song isn't bad, but is hurt by the graces of it being a tell tale Stargate and Ne-Yo track - because it sounds like the same old shit they often give to ladies in the pop game. There is something really odd about hearing the Sugababes sing on what sounds like a song intended for Rihanna. The same goes for "Little Miss Perfect". A good song, but one that sounds like it Rihanna should be singing it.

The first half of the album is quite literally a mess. "Get sexy" is a fun club track. I admit: every time I've heard this in club, I've acted a bit of a fool, leaned and 2-stepped to it. The beat goes HARD in the clubs. But as a Sugababes song, lined side-by-side with the 'babes previous lead singles? It blows all the way down to the testicles. "Wear my kiss" is boring. It sounds like an anybody song, and as though it should have been a B-side on the "Get sexy" single release. The chorus is catchy. But the dominant vocals on it are sung by a bunch of people who clearly aren't the Sugababes. I guess the 'babes were too busy trying to push a bitch out of the group to have laid the vocals down themselves. "Thank you for the heartbreak" is a solid offering from Norwegian production duo Stargate. It's sound is incredibly different for them, but it suits the girls' nicely. would have if the 'babes sang with some conviction and the chorus had some punch to it. No energy, no sass, yes fail. It's a shame the same swagger the Sugababes worked into their first live performance of this song wasn't goin' around the studio when they recorded the album version. "Wait for you" sounds like a dodgy remix of a miscellaneous chart record, featured on some Ministry of sound CD. Whack. As if the album hasn't already beaten you down with just how badly the Sugababes have fallen off, in come marching "Miss everything" and "She's a mess". To say these are absolutely two of the worst songs the Sugababes have done would not be an understatement. Overly synthed club beats, horrendous lyrics, auto-tune and Sean Kingston make the songs a musical cocktail of garbage.

Amongst the shitty first half of the album lies a bit of a gem. "About a girl" comes courtesy of RedOne and songwriter (as well as Rihanna's right hand lady in the studio) Makeba Riddick. It sounds completely unlike anything both he and the Sugababes have done before, but it works. The beat knocks hard and the hook is catchy: just what you'd expect from a Sugababes single. However, the song lacks lasting substance. The girls sound like they're singing by numbers and that they don't really care. The production on the song is so hot that it matters not that the Sugababes are even singing. You wouldn't feel any differently about the song regardless of who it went to. Still... it is a good song, and one of Sweet 7's savory moments.

The problem with Sweet 7, is that it does not feel like a Sugababes album at all. Every single track has the girls' conforming to a sound we've heard done (better) before. And as a result the whole thing ends up sounding like something from Girls Aloud or The Saturday's - both of whom have put out better albums than this! The Sugababes used to be put in studios with writers and producers who understood the Sugababes sound. And either tried to hone it, or take it to the next level. But what we have here is the result of an A&R person just throwing the girls into recording sessions with producers pulled out of a 'Who's hot now' Rolodex of producers; very few of whom seem to get what the Sugababes sound was all about and how they should be sounding now.

The girls' vocals sound no better than they did before. I've always hoped that the Sugababes would put out an album where the vocal production is taken up a notch, and we get to hear intricate vocal harmonies and arrangements. But nope. Just dead pan singing by complete numbers. New girl Jade sounds great though. Say what you will about her and the shifty dealings that got her into the group, but the chick can sing. She shamefully puts Amelle and Heidi on the back burner for near enough the whole album. They'll soon wish they hadn't bothered letting her into the group, because she steals both of their shine on every track. It doesn't mean much when the songs are utter shit though.
The Sugababes used to run things in the UK, now they're just roadkill. I won't blame the 4.0 line-up change for the the music going to shit, because things began to go downhill after the second line-up change. Whoever is pulling the strings behind the group need to be sacked, because the Sugababes name is losing its worth with each album the girls put out.

RATING: 2 / 10

Album highlights:
■ About a girl ★ J's fave
■ Crash & burn
■ Sweet & amazing


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