Little Mix aim for more grown up sound on LM5
As Little Mix broke through in X Factor UK in 2011, when the girls were still teenagers or just 20 years old, they were forced to grow up in the spotlights. This reflected in their public image through the years, but also in their music. On their fifth album LM5 they are eager to show the world what they sound like as grown women. But is it a step up from the four albums they released before? A Bit of Pop Music reviews LM5 track by track.
01. The National Manthem
Little Mix has always focused on girl power and sisterhood as a band and they open their album with a little intro with the lyrics: “She is a bad bitch, made up of magic. Pray to the goddess, don’t break your promise. Thou shall be faithful and honest.” Their harmonizing is beautiful as ever and it perfectly sets the tone for what is to come.
02. Woman Like Me (feat. Nicki Minaj)
In my initial review of lead single ‘Woman Like Me’, I critiqued the track for being too predictable and quite a safe bet for first single. Safe bets often pay off though! After six weeks of charting, the track at the time of writing reached the second spot in the UK top 40. I still don’t think it is anywhere near the most exciting sound that Little Mix has ever put their name to, but the chorus is strong enough and has broad appeal. Well done girls!
03. Think About Us
‘Think About Us’ is another straightforward pop banger with loads of hit potential. The chorus is incredibly catchy and settles in your mind after Perrie sings the melody line for the first time in the intro. Her vocals are made for soaring melodies like this and it was a smart idea to give the first part of the chorus to her, while the other girls join in for the second half. They all nail their parts of the verses with emotive vocals, asking their love interest if he is thinking about them too. The production is very much 2018 and the post-chorus drop never gets old as the girls get the chance to belt over it. What a tune!
04. Strip (feat. Sharaya J.)
‘Strip’ is a body positivity anthem that at the same time offers a middle finger to the tabloids that keep criticizing them for ‘too revealing’ outfits. The main hook is offered in a whispering rapping way by Jade, in a similar manner to MNEK’s single ‘Tongue’, who also happened to have co-produced this tune. The girls seemed to have pushed the track as the proper second single after a few promo tracks. A ballsy move which I hope will pay off!
05. Monster In Me
‘Monster In Me’ is the first midtempo affair on the album and it is a bloody good one, that again could easily become a hit when chosen as a single. The chorus is big and the lyrics about a dysfunctional relationship are relatable. Perrie nails the vocal lines in the chorus. This is simply a very well written pop song that should become a hit at some point.
06. Joan of Arc
The bouncy track ‘Joan of Arc’ was released as second taste of the record and was a less radiofriendly, but definitely more interesting answer to the lead single. In the verses, the girls confidently rap about ‘stanning themselves’, while the pre-chorus delivers a soaring hook. This is one of their more outspoken, ballsy moments on which they tackle subjects like confidence, independence and emancipation, while naming some historic strong women.
07. Love A Girl Right
With ‘Love A Girl Right’, the girls subtly move into summery, latin pop territory. The track references Ricky Martin’s ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ as well as borrowing production elements from SisQo’s notorious ‘Thong Song’. In the lyrics, the ladies warn a guy who does not treat one of their friends right. If he does not up his game, they will come after him! One of the highlights of the record!
08. American Boy
‘American Boy’ brings back the light reggae vibes that we heard on lead single ‘Woman Like Me’. This track about feeling insecure about the other’s feelings when being in love will have to battle ‘Love A Girl Right’ for the choice of summer single next year! ‘American Boy’ does have an insanely catchy chorus with some ‘ooh la la’s’ thrown in here and there, which is never a bad thing!
09. Told You So
‘Told You So’ is the first proper ballad we encounter on LM5 and was also released as one of the promo singles before the album dropped. The acoustic guitar based tune is a testament to their sisterhood. They sing about how they will comfort their friend after she broke up with a guy that they had warned her about before. They will never say ‘I told you so’, but be there for her instead. Gotta love the friendship of these girls!
The girls return the sound of ‘Strip’ for the track ‘Wasabi’. Jade delivers a similar fast paced, almost whispering chorus, again aimed at all those who talk badly about them, popularly known as ‘the haters’. The girls turn the hate into something positive, saying that the fact that everybody keeps talking about them, got them to where they are today. The production by Mike Sabath seems inspired by early noughties pop, while Jesy drops a powerful pre-chorus with some rocky guitars. Needless to say I love it!
11. More Than Words
On ‘More Than Words’, Little Mix gives a platform to Kamille, a songwriter who was responsible for some of the biggest hits in their career. Kamille’s voice is dominant on the first verse and the pre-choruses, while the whole band belts it out in the chorus. The production by Timbaland is of the ‘in-your-face’ kind and it works well. ‘More Than Words’ would have been a powerful closer too!
‘Motivate’ is easily one of the more bonkers moments of the album. The production by Loosechange and Yei navigates through a couple of big tempo changes. The intro sounds like it was written for Leigh-Anne and she slays her parts seemingly effortlessly. To be honest, the ‘ooh la la’ parts in the post-chorus get a bit jarring after a couple of plays. Not one of the best tunes here, but entertaining enough to refrain from using the skip button.
After the high energy of ‘Motivate’, the girls take a step back for ‘Notice’, an emotional midtempo track about not being noticed in a relationship. He does not even pick up on signals to go to bed with his lady! “So, what’s the point of wearing nothing if you never notice? There’s sex in the air, I don’t think you notice”, the girls sing over a soulful and sensual arrangement that would not have been out of place on a Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.
14. The Cure
The Little Mix ladies close their album with a powerful pop ballad about growth, healing and growing up. They sing about how they were lost for a while, but found the cure and are doing better now. It is a beautiful composition with a contemporary production and hooks for days. The most beautiful closer this album could wish for.
For the biggest mixers among us, there is a deluxe edition too with an acoustic version of ‘The Cure’, their Cheat Codes collaboration ‘Only You’ and two extra tracks; the laidback ‘Forget You Not’ and power ballad ‘Woman’s World’. Where Little Mix was hit and miss with their albums for a while (I loved the singles, but all the albums had some filler material in my eyes), they keep growing! LM5 is their strongest, most cohesive and most mature album too date!