Album: Sugababes

Three, Universal Island
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The Independent Culture

Though it is not quite as poisonously formulaic as the Sophie Ellis-Bextor album, there's still a deeply enervating quality about this third offering from the Sugababes (no, I didn't realise they'd made more than one album before, either). What is acceptable, even enjoyable, in the limited dosage of occasional radio play becomes, after only four or five tracks, a grimly repetitive and spiritually corrosive experience. It's not just that the trio's vocal performances are virtually identical from song to song, whatever the supposed mood; nor that the music seeks to avoid any idiosyncratic distinction that might challenge their fans' perception of the group. Such things are commonplaces of the kiddie-pop industry. No, what is most depressing about Three is that there is in effect only one song on it - or, more accurately, one attitude, that ubiquitous sulky, surly-girly sneer that stains most R&B and hip hop, a restricted lexicon of put-downs and brush-offs: "You're in my face; sorry, what's your name?"; "Lately, you ain't doing it for me"; "You're never gonna get my love: is that clear?" and so on, a tedious, whiny pout-fest that passes itself off as "empowering" but simply encourages brattish disdain as a knee-jerk response to everything. They should have just called the album Whatever... and have done with it.

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