Reborn Babes Are a Sweet Success

By Thrills, Adrian | Daily Mail (London), August 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

Reborn Babes Are a Sweet Success


Thrills, Adrian, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: ADRIAN THRILLS

Sugababes: Angels With Dirty Faces (Universal Island) Verdict: Sugababes polish up their act

THE RE-EMERGENCE of the Sugababes is one of this year's most unexpected pop comebacks.

The female trio - who turned heads with their debut single, Overload, two years ago - seemed destined for a return to obscurity after they were abandoned by one of their founder members then dropped by their record label.

But the chart-topping feats of their two most recent singles - Freak Like Me and Round Round - have transformed their fortunes. And the arrival of this, their second album, reinforces their current pre-eminence.

When they originally tasted success, the Sugababes were 15-year-old schoolgirls whose innocent, unaffected lyrics and infectious, Sixties-hued songs were a refreshing antidote to the fame-hungry, stage-school graduates who were then dominating the homegrown pop scene.

Today, they are young women with attitude and an entirely different musical outlook. 'We've grown up a lot,' says Keisha Buchanan. 'We're more involved in what we're doing. Everything came right for this album.' Having successfully reinvented themselves - and promptly found a new record company - the Sugababes now call their music 'nu urban funk'.

But while there is nothing particularly 'nu' or funky about Angels With Dirty Faces, the album's overall lack of groundbreaking innovation does not lessen the trio's effectiveness.

The group bring together a wide array of influences - American R&B, European electro-rock and UK garage - with supreme confidence.

With their strident voices underpinned by grinding percussion and bass-heavy synths, Keisha, Mutya Buena and newcomer Heidi Range (who replaced Siobhan Donaghy) are the first British female group since All Saints to push the rabblerousing Spice Girls blueprint forwards.

This startling reinvention is most apparent on Freak Like Me, which opens the album by blending the sonorous synthesiser riff from Gary Numan's Are 'Friends' Electric? …

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