Sunday, October 14, 2012

Episode 1483: An Album Ahead Of Its Time?

So after a post on TV stars of yesteryear popping back on our screens, I might as well do a post about some 'old' pop music that I've been playing a lot on my iPod lately. To be exact, it's really just one album, Rachel Stevens's sophomore effort Come And Get It. For me, it's one of those rare albums that I can listen straight through without skipping any of the tracks and honestly tell myself that I find something to enjoy in each one. (Most recently, that's happened with Bright Light Bright Light's Make Me Believe In Hope.) Stevens might be better remembered as one of the members of S Club 7, though in that pop group, she was more eye candy than key vocalist. Her solo tracks tend to rely on production to buoy her lacklustre vocals, but on Come And Get It, this actually pays off. The album didn't do all that well, but music reviewers have tended to consider it an underrated pop gem, and I think they're right. If any track on the album had been done by any of today's pop darlings like Katy Perry or Rihanna (i.e. anyone whose voice actually seemed to possess some sort of personality), it would probably have been a hit. This is not to say that Stevens's singing is terrible or entirely buried beneath Auto-Tune (I'm looking at you, Britney Spears), it's just a bit emotionally flat and lacking in musical or dynamic range. Still, in a way Come And Get It was sort of ahead of its time, since the dominance of producer RedOne's sound had yet to arrive in the guise of Lady Gaga. (Then there was those awful couple of years when Timbaland's beats were all the rage.) That's part of the album's appeal for me though, that it sounds almost like today's overproduced pop, but somehow isn't quite trapped by all that sonic gimmickry yet. It hits that sweet spot between the cheesiness of late nineties/early noughties bubblegum pop and the slickness of today's club-friendly stuff.

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