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Sugababes - ''Angels With Dirty Faces''
(Thursday August 29, 2002 11:23 AM)

Released on 26/08/2002
Label: Universal

God we loved Sugababes when they appeared a couple of years ago. Fresh, full of attitude (if not dinner) and set to tear up the UK pop soul/R'n'B scene with an album's worth of spot-on songs with arrangements and voices to match. Then Siobhan leaves, they change labels, Heidi joins, just as the hard work's paying off and now they're as huge as some of us predicted they would be.

'Angels' is a far darker set than 'One Touch' - there are splashes of pure Massive Attack here on 'Stronger' and 'Just Don't Need This', moods that Tricky would be proud of. Which sort of makes sense when you remember that Gary Numan's 'Are Friends Electric' launched phase two of this story as the core track behind the brilliant 'Freak Like Me'. And boy do these girls know how to make singles now. 'Round Round' doesn't hang about - straight in with the irresistible hook and shifting sand, drum track. Brilliant. And if the sensational 'Supernatural' - very Daft Punk - doesn't follow its ascent up the charts, well, you can call me Susan.

Sugababes have grown up too much for a song like 'Virgin Sexy' (oh dear) which updates 'One Touch''s reassurances that they were still daddy's little girls. This time the girls contemplate their, ahem, deflowering by comparing it with the fear generated by Freddie from Elm Street. Either they're doing something wrong, or the boyfriends need to cut their fingernails!

Unlike most of their contemporaries, Sugababes have kept alive the possibility of this music working in the live arena - real drums and guitars still get the funk out and there are still sensitive, candle lit moments such as their version of Sting's 'Shape Of My Heart' (don't ask) and 'Breathe Easy' to showcase those considerable voices. All in all a more focussed second album, even if it comes at a price. We've lost some of the debutante Sugababes' fun and experimentation but 'Angels With Dirty Faces' will be a much bigger hit. Good work girls.

    by Andy Strickland

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