A competent and frequently enjoyable pop album.
Tom Hocknell 2010-10-28
Cheryl Cole, capitalising on public goodwill, here delivers her second album with the paint still wet on her debut of last year, 3 Words. It is also a pre-emptive strike, as Girls Aloud’s main vocal force, Nadine Coyle, is poised to deliver her first solo album next month. Cole is clearly aware of the natural lifespan of pop records, although creditably this album does not feel rushed. It is a consummate demonstration of savvy collaborations, appealing to both the playground and the school run.
The metaphorical Messy Little Raindrops of the title probably relate to her personal life, because all these songs will unavoidably be interpreted through her recent divorce from a footballer. Mind you, the tracklisting also reads like a series of luxury Thailand resorts: Hummingbird, Raindrops, Happy Tears. And it features a cover on which Cole appears to have arrived by travelling sideways, while sitting down. Bizarre.
In the past, singers like Dusty Springfield brought their unique voice to other peoples’ songs – while not in the same league, Cole certainly brings enthusiasm to the table. Occasionally she is at the mercy of these songwriters. Despite its commercial success, recent single This Promise is a mere shadow of Girls Aloud’s The Promise. But the album improves with the Madonna (Hung Up period) RnB/rave of Yeah Yeah and the blissful synth line of Live Tonight.
On the anthemic Everyone, Cheryl shares her valuable insight that "sometimes life’s unfair", with Dizzee Rascal contributing his own thoughts on their mutual rise from the streets. Meanwhile, it is Happy Tears ("our love is dead, but I’m alive") and Better to Lie which shed the most light upon her recent relationship troubles via a familiar world of mobile phones, club VIP areas and slashing your ex’s car tyres. She loses focus with The Flood, stretching a shipwreck analogy over an uncomfortable four minutes, but before things get too upsetting, will.i.am uplifts things with Let’s Get Down, a celebratory jam aimed firmly at Friday night.
It’s as air-brushed as expected, but Messy Little Raindrops is a competent and frequently enjoyable pop album. It will doubtlessly repeat her debut’s performance, and earn her a second number one album.