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Girls Aloud - 'The Loving Kind'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:14 UK time, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Girls AloudIf you believe the bloggarel, Girls Aloud stand accused of having made a more mature album, reflecting their status as pop royalty, and the passing of the years. This, as with a lot of things people say on the internet, is cack. One of the last songs on 'Out Of Control' contains a mooing noise for God's sake!

And just because when I first heard the album I mistook this one for kind of boring and therefore didn't bother with the rest of it for about a week doesn't mean I'm about to be completely inconsistent.

This song is, of course, the collaboration between Girls Aloud and the Pet Shop Boys, the very idea of which sent some (other) pop webbies into complete throes of delight, and probably confused people younger than myself as to who the hell any of these people were. If you are younger than myself, then prepare to be more confused about the fact that the song actually sounds entirely and totally like St Etienne, a band from the nineties who made very, very good emotionally charged minimal-feeling dance-pop-indie.

While the excitement might not be totally palpable amongst the under-twenties, regarding the idea of Girls Aloud doing a song with the Pet Shop Boys that sounds like St Etienne, it has to be understood that to some people this is like some kind of pop fantasy made manifest and thus completely exciting beyond all belief.

Watch the (very pretty, if a bit rhythmically out of sync) video for this pop fantasy here.

Girls Aloud are of course famous for being brilliant at shouting and not necessarily totally ace at ballads. They are, though, also brilliant at shouty half-ballads like 'Call The Shots' and fortunately 'The Loving Kind' also falls into the same bracket, namely 'beautiful heartbreak set to a backdrop of travelling synths and lyrical weirdery that prevent it becoming saccharine or empty.' Which is rather what you'd expect from the Pet Shop Boys who have, after all, made a (very brilliant) career out of this kind of thing.

Despite my initial sulk when I heard this song, it isn't boring at all; it's got gender-bendy lines like "I'll buy you flowers, I'd pour you wine, do anything to change your mind"* and the really, really wonderful bit where Nicola sings "I'd do anything, sing songs that lovers sing" and sounds so utterly desperate I just want to give her a massive hug and have a big cry with her.

They say the line between genius and madness is very thin and apparently it's also true that in the world of half-ballads, the line between 'boring and not-worth-it' and 'mind-meltingly fantastic' is about two-and-a-half proper listens.

So, while it's easy to get caught up on the idea of this being some immense pop event, it's not necessarily got to be amazing because of that and anyway, it's not quite as titanic an event as some people might like to make out. However, that doesn't change that it is a very, very pretty, very catchy, extremely well done piece of heartbroken pop, with all the shimmer and cosiness of a warm coat on a winter's day and you can't ask for a lot more than that, really.

Five stars Download: Out now
CD Released: December 1st
www.girlsaloud.co.uk

(Hazel Robinson)

*And yes I know women buy men flowers and wine all the time, etc. but they don't often sing songs about doing it.

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