Pussycat Dolls - Doll Domination
(Wednesday September 24, 2008 5:07 PM
Released on 22/09/08
Given how rapidly the wheels came off Nicole Scherzinger's solo career - not to mention the two car crashes of the Pussycat Dolls reality TV shows - it's not surprising that her latest vehicle, "Doll Domination", comes both souped-up and armour-plated. Assembled by a small army of the most expensive engineers (Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, Polow da Don, Sean Garrett), with bolt-ons from Snoop Dogg, R Kelly, Missy Elliott and Cee-Lo Green amongst others, the second Pussycat Dolls album is a tank of a record, designed to run over the opposition and grind it into the mud.
As an emblem of 21st century pop production excess, it makes recent albums by Rihanna, Beyonce and Madonna feel like folksy little efforts recorded in their basements. But as a listening experience, it's an uneven and ramshackle affair. Like a hyperactive five-year-old let loose in a fancy dress shop, the Dolls occasionally find styles which fit, but the results are just as often a garish mismatch.
So Scherzinger sounds rather good dressed-up as 1989 Janet Jackson on the sprightly, shiny swingbeat of "Who's Gonna Love You", and does an impressive Beyonce on the stomping sonic assault of "Takin Over The World". And she makes as much as Rihanna would have with the breathless, understated ballad, "Hate This Part". But on the clattering, heavily treated "Bottle Pop" she sounds like Gwen Stefani with all the mischief drained and on the bullying new single "Watcha Think About It" she pulls off something philosophers have long considered a metaphysical impossibility by making Fergie sound classy.
The nadir is reached on "Out Of This Club". This could have been a spiky female riposte to the "let's have sex in this nitespot toilet" genre pioneered by Nelly, Usher and R Kelly (who features), but Scherzinger is no Madonna or Pink, and rather than making Kelly spill his Cristal with nerves, she simpers and drools like Jessica Simpson on Rohypnol. Though she can't be blamed for the flatness of "Halo", which sees Timbaland's big ballad formula - all fat beats and synth sheen - start to sound threadbare. Dark, dissonant club bangers like "When I Grow Up" or "Magic" are much better.
Given the fact there are 25 tracks and a platoon of songwriters spread over "Doll Domination"'s various bonus discs, it's not surprising that it occasionally succeeds, and there are hit singles to be found here. But from a return on investment point of view, this could just mark the moment when modern record companies starts to wonder whether less might not be more, after all.
by Jaime Gill
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