For the past six years, Sugababes and Girls Aloud have had the monopoly on girl groups. Surviving in an increasingly narrow pop genre, they've witnessed the death of the traditional boy band and seen off potential competitors the 411 and Clea to become two of the biggest bands in Britain. The Saturdays, the first major-label girl band to be launched in four years, are therefore in the unenviable position of trying to muscle in on some pretty safeguarded territory. Featuring two members of the pre-teen pop band S Club Juniors and several former stage school students, they've certainly got the experience, but judging from their debut album, they've also got a fighting chance of chart success too. Chasing Lights isn't exactly a radical departure from their counterparts, but it has an infectious quality which proves the recent Top Ten success of their first two singles, the Yazoo sampling synth-heavy "If This Is Love" and the robotic disco-pop of "Up" were no fluke. "Keep Her" is a Timbaland-style urban number featuring a bubbling acidic bassline and a feisty "Girl Power" chorus; the equally fierce "Set Me Off" is reminiscent of Goldfrapp's electro-glam period; while "Work" echoes the muscular dance-pop of Rihanna's recent chart-toppers. The ballads, so often the weakest link on a pop album, are nearly as convincing. The title track is a gorgeous midtempo acoustic number and "Fall" is a classy Ne-Yo-style seductive slow jam, but the dated "Issues," featuring the rather clumsy line, "can't decide if I should slap you or kiss you," sounds like a Max Martin reject from the '90s. If they're lucky to make it to album number two, the Saturdays will have to try and develop a sound of their own. But brimming with hooks and sparkling melodies, Chasing Lights is undoubtedly a consistent pop album that should, at the very least, keep their rivals on their toes. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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