Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Album Review: Cheryl Cole - Messy Little Raindrops (3/5)
Girls Aloud alumni Cheryl Cole delivers the follow-up to 2009's commercially successful but critically unsettling debut 3 Words. It fell short of convincing me of her aspirations to be a credible solo pop-star, as well as paling in comparison to other X Factor related releases, released around the same time including Leona Lewis' Echo and Alexandra Burke's Overcome. While Messy Little Raindrops is marginally better, it still amounts to a notably weak follow-up because lets face it: Cheryle Cole isn't an amazing pop singer, a problem that dominates when it comes to less production-driven numbers towards its middle section.
Bass-popping lead single "Promise This" is a great opener. A cute upbeat pop production--not in the same vein as "Fight for this Love," but still as fun with slightly darker lyrics ("Promise this if I die before I wake"). The pounding dance-pop of "Yeah Yeah" featuring Gym Class Heroes member Travie McCoy is good too, a little worn but a striking slice of Kylie Minogue influenced dance-pop. It's bookended by the throbbing bassy mid-tempo "Live Tonight." It sounds like the less electronic counterpart to "3 Words," a highlight? not really.
There's not many more highlights from here on. Cheryl tries her hand with balladry on "The Flood," which doesn't quite work, she stretches her vocal limitations a bit too far on the chorus--kind of like how Katy Perry does on "Firework." I hear this is the second single. Plodding urban tinged "Amnesia" serves up a bland slice of pop, it sounds like American singer Vannessa Hudgens' "Say Ok." Worse is the dull warbling bass lines of "Everyone" featuring rapper Dizzee Rascal, showcasing no melody whatsoever.
Second ballad on the album "Raindrops" is a pretty sweet piece of balladry. She sings surprisingly well on the soaring melodic-fronted chorus. "Hummingbirds" reigns in the poppy R&B of "Amnesia" and the bulky bass lines of "Everyone" it's not a knockout but at least it has some melody. Venturing further into R&B territories is "Better to Lie" featuring someone called August Rigo. It's produced by Jonathan Rotem, who's recently produced hits for Jason DeRulo and JLS, which would explain the random burst skittering drum beats. Again, not a knockout but it's decent.
The album hits a major speed bump with the lyrically-cringy "Lets Get Down," as Cole raps over a series of plodding synth-driven beats ("All my ladies, all my girls, my honeys, all my birds, all my bitches, all my ladies"). You're Cheryl Cole from Newscastle, England not Chequanda from Southside Queens, New York--get it together. "Happy Tears" is an angelic piano-laced ballad over thumping beats, it compliments each other well, joining the very few tracks on here I've really taken too.
Cheryl Cole has the look, personality, hype and interest to be a credible pop-star what she lacks is the craft. The songs on here are thankfully an improvement from the ones on 3 Words, but still doesn't collectively make a strong pop album. If her pop contemporaries, Britney Spears and Rihanna share Cole's vocal limitation and can crank out cracking albums why can't she do it? Unfortunately with success just waiting to ejaculate all over this album, I doubt Cole will be in the least bit motivated to start delivering stronger work--and with fellow band mate Nadine Coyle's debut album on the way, it seems her retreating back to Girls Aloud isn't an option anymore.
Best: Promise This, Yeah Yeah, Raindrops, Happy Tears