You'd be hard pushed to ascertain, just from listening to it, that Girls Aloud's third album is produced entirely by Brian Higgins and Xenomania - the team that created some of the better grooves on Sugababes' latest album - as there's a pronounced change of style about two-thirds of the way through Chemistry. Up to that point, Higgins and his charges have hammered out a series of brash, punchy pop riffs, most featuring smart, tight rhythm-guitar licks from Nick Coler and/or Shawn Lee, who offer a modern slant on the kind of work that Steve Cropper and Jimmy "Chank" Nolen did on all those Stax and James Brown classics. The effect is to underscore the girls' sassy, assertive attitude, whether they're getting in the party mood with "Watch Me Go", or giving a dismissive kiss-off in "Wild Horses". With the onset of "Swinging London Town", however, the tone changes sharply to supercharged, pulsing Moroder-isms, which, by the ensuing "It's Magic", have matured into a facsimile of the Depeche Mode style. And this comes not a moment too soon, as a kind of grim queasiness inevitably accompanies such a concentrated dose of musical E-numbers.
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