Sugababes: Catfights and Spotlights
October 26, 2008
‘Catfights and Spotlights’ could equally have been named ‘Heartbreak and High Heels’. It’s a record by a band that is right on top of their game, and are well aware of it. ‘You on a Good Day’ ticks all the right boxes. There’s a chugging bass line, a mini vocal breakdown in the bridge and the obligatory call and answer in the middle 8 that demands that the beat be brought back, a.s.a.p. ‘No Can Do’ boasts a surprising chorus, and a smashing fade-out. ‘Sunday Rain’ borrows a little from the Moonlight Sonata by way of ‘Back to Black’. There will probably be some kind of moody video involving lots of walking.
The lyrics save the record from wallowing in nostalgia, and from leaking into the current spate of 60’s throwbacks. Roughly half the tracks were co-written by the ’babes themselves, and it’s easy to tell which. There’s no erudition, no clever similes and no Coward-esque puns. Lines like ‘Let me tell you bout a boy who’s going la-la tryin an get my ya-ya’ and ‘I read a magazine last night/All our issues came to light/ I memorized it piece by piece but I guess it’s not that easy’ distill segments of the advice pages of Cosmo into bite-sized, standard backbeat-ed chunks. Is it fair to say then, that this could be a concept album, chronicling a Saturday night out? It follows a group of friends getting ready to go out (‘Girls), who bump into an ex (‘No Can Do’), which leads to a domestic by the side of the dancefloor (‘Side Chick’), and ends in a Deep Meaningful Conversation in the chip shop (‘Can We Call a Truce’). It’s only a pity that they felt compelled to sellotape on a tacky duet with Taio Cruz at the end, which means that instead of the album ending on an acoustic, lovelorn downbeat, it fades out through over-produced synths. Mutya wouldn’t have let that one slide.