THE SUGABABES – the acceptable face of manufactured pop – are a group that know a thing or two about change. It makes sense then that their fifth album should be so entitled.
Despite maintaining only one member of the original line-up, the group have amassed a set of gawp-inducing statistics – they're the most successful female act of the century gaining more Top 10 singles with original songs than any girl group since the Supremes; and they're the first girl group in 20 years to release more than three hit albums.
Yet it is such acclaim that probably makes latest instalment 'Change' something of the disappointment it is.
Every track on 'Change' possesses classic Sugababe appeal, but it never quite makes the sum of its parts.
The album not only highlights changes within the group's line-up, but also illustrates their constantly morphing style and it seems it's the variety of tracks which has proved to be the album's downfall.
Single of the moment 'About You Now' fires a fierce opening shot and defines the album's focus – that this is the studio album debut of new recruit Amelle Berrabah, who has certainly been given nowhere to hide as she both opens and dominates the track.
Next up is the disco friendly 'Never Gonna Dance Again', and here starts the disappointment. It's not that the track is not good, but that sadly it has the feeling of being tired and slightly jaded in comparison to the strength of the previous offering.
'Change' continues down this rollercoaster up and down railroad of genuine diamond sitting side by side with the cheaper and manufactured cubic zirconia.
Track 'Denial' comes across as disposable – even with some undeniably lovely harmonies, the album would be no better or no worse had it been left off the final track listing.
And title track 'Change', along with 'Mended By You' only really flirt with credibility thanks to the trio's irrepressible and watertight harmonies.
There are highs with the lows however – 'Back When' and 'Surprise' reminding that the 'babes' are more than capable of bashing out more than accomplished pop gems. And finale 'Undignified' at least leaves listeners with as great a closer as the album opened with.
Apt in its titling of 'Change' to detail the group's line-up and style, the album's moniker also hints at the fact that this seems to be a record of growth and development – superlative singles marred by patchy pop from a band struggling to grow up.
Gone is the dirt of 'Freak Like Me' and the everlasting resonance of 2006's 'Overload', yet there are glimmers of hope present on 'Change' that once the girl's have truly settled from their latest metamorphous, there is much, much more to come.
This CD is available to buy
now at Woolworths.