Whether 'Right About Now' is quite good enough to make up for Mousse T's previous...
Jaime Gill 2004
It's surprisingly difficult to write a tune that is as infuriatingly catchy as it is obnoxious, one of those songs that has you avoiding the radio for weeks in case it is played and lodges in your brain like a non-benign tumour. German producer Mousse T has the rare distinction of writing two: hen night favourite, "Horny", and the Tom Jones atrocity, "Sex Bomb". Which makes the fact that Right About Now is not only bearable but actually enjoyable very odd indeed.
This is mainly down to a re-invention that makes Madonna look rather stuck in her ways, a sudden embracing of a laid back, guitar-driven sound that apparently owes a lot to the smoke in the late-nightair. Songs like the sprightly Beatles whimsy of "Underground" and the sinuous pop of "Wow" explicitly celebrate "smoking sessions." Stoner records are usually as tedious as stoner conversations, but Right About Now has a charming vivacity and eclecticism.
That eclecticism doesn't always yield great results. On "Sex Has Gone", Stephen Roachford's gorgeously rich voice is squandered on a bland excursion into soul, and the bland balladry of "By Myself" is instantly forgettable. Yet more often that not Mousse T grasps a style and makes it work.
The slinky hit single "Is It Cos I'm Cool" wraps a sweet vocal around a gently biting lyric, while "Music Makes Me Fly" follows Rachel Stevens' lead by borrowing the strutting rhythm of Goldfrapp's "Strict Machine" and building a creamy, dreamy pop song on top of it.
There are two pleasantly jarring moments. The first is the title track, a rocky soul belter which sounds very similar indeed to En Vogue's imperious "Free Your Mind" and is nearly as rousing. The second is "Monotony", a skeletal, brooding lullaby that wouldn't sound entirely out of place on Massive Attack's "Blue Lines".
Whether Right About Now is quite good enough to make up for Mousse T's previous musical crimes is debatable, but taken on its own terms it's an accomplished, occasionally great pop record and one of the year's oddest surprises.