With a rock’n’roll album climate where five decent-ish tracks and five unfinished B-side attempts means a knighthood, things like guitars, moshpits and artists writing their own material seem increasingly superfluous when in search of that rare beast, a proper song. ‘The Show’, ‘Something Kinda Ooooh’, ‘Sexy! No No No…’ and of course, last year’s best single (sorry, ‘Golden Skans’!), ‘Call The Shots’. It’s a read ’em and weep situation.
The enslaving combination of Xenomania’s production house – the UK charts’ answer to Sauron from The Lord Of The Rings – and five inexplicably likeable tabloid linchpins has ruled the British hit parade with an iron heel since they won Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. Album – you’re actually not going to believe this – five has Xeno mainman Brian Higgins’ gratuitous gorging of styles and tightly bound swathes of sound firmly in place. ‘Love Is The Key’ is a perversely busy beast, Gregorian choirs paving the way for hoedown guitars fused to groaning electro keys. ‘Call The Shots 2’ – aka ‘The Loving Kind’ – proves to be a letdown sequel. Their link-up with the Pet Shop Boys is soap-strings, hi-NRG pumps and wistful wails, with a damp towel of a chorus.
It’s the cutesy Abba-esque mum-dancing of ‘Rolling Back The Rivers’ and the sky-scraping invisibility of ‘Untouchable’’s post-Ibiza power-balladeering, though, that really flexes their superhuman pop muscles. Not their best, but still more consistent than any British indie album released this year.