One amazing track rather overshadows the rest of this fourth album.
Tom Hocknell 2011-07-01
Coming across like a less-cynical Cheryl Cole, Sophie Ellis-Bextor is such a quintessential singles artist that is hard to see why she bothers with albums – and this fourth attempt adds little to the argument. Roping in Ed Harcourt and Metronomy’s Joseph Mount on writing duties exposes her indie past, but otherwise this is business as usual with Brighton’s Freemasons, Calvin Harris, Richard X and Armin Van Buuren credited with co-writes.
Having cornered the market in dancing like a teapot, she begins Revolution with "Bang, bang! It’s a hold up" – her Home Counties vowels making it sound like a teashop robbery. The opener continues her proven record with the dance-pop she has been peddling for years, as though Xenomania never happened. Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer) was released two years ago but reappears here, doing its best to replicate Ellis-Bextor’s ubiquitous 2001 hit single Murder on the Dancefloor with another pleasingly drawn-out "da-ancer" (rhyming with "answer"). The album’s purple patch continues with Van Buuren’s uplifting Not Giving Up on Love – which sounds like Chicane at the gym – before Starlight (one of two collaborations with Richard X) stirs unexpected thoughts of Supertramp. Initially, anyway: before long it morphs into an all-conquering follow-up to Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Its effortless style and euphoric hook rather overshadows the rest of this collection.
This album’s problem is that it takes too long to do too little. That, and the lyrics rarely rise above gossip in a nightclub – "My head is spinning / I think it’s winning" is a choice example, from the REO Speedwagon-sampling Can't Fight This Feeling – ultimately leaving the listener reeling from relentless chirpiness. Synchronised is a welcome pit-stop in pace, with a satisfying synth line, but could be by anyone; while Homewrecker and Dial My Number prance enthusiastically past without leaving much of a trace.
Despite the contemporary co-writes, in an age where Take That work with Stuart Price and Nicola Roberts embraces Diplo’s electro cool, this album comes across as a selection of competent B sides surrounding the fantastic Starlight.