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When going into a Little Mix album as someone who isn't a fan already AND isn't in their demographic of fans seems to be a setup for disaster. Much to the surprise of an outsider, Glory Days, the group's fourth record, is a pretty solid effort.
Little Mix are perhaps the more focussed, girly counterpart of the United States' Fifth Harmony, but something about this record makes it seem like Little Mix take the cake. Glory Days is a very cohesive record, full of energy and relatable content. It's not bubblegum pop that you'd commonly relate to other artists of this caliber. It's a maturer sound for the group, as well, some different, more risqué themes sneaking their way into the mix.
Glory Days kicks off with 'Shout Out To My Ex,' a highly energetic track with a relatable theme. Much in the way of Justin Bieber's 'Love Yourself,' it's less of a "thanks for the memories" track and more of a lowkey "fuck you" to an ex. The bright acoustic guitar in the verses exude a certain positivity and energy that makes the track feel young and daring, ready for the future to come. The choruses ring high with powerful synths bouncing and pounding percussion.
Similarly poppy tracks include 'Your Love,' which is a bit repetitive but still provides a sweet listen, 'No More Sad Songs' which has some indie elements to it which help it stand out amongst the rest of the album, and 'Touch,' highlighting the chemistry between the group's members with great harmonies. Towards the center of the album lies some punchiness; 'Oops' begins almost goofily, with thick brass coming in that gives the song some extra oomph. It's very self aware of its own idea, and really executes it in the least gimmicky way possible. It's full of groove thanks too that simple brass and dedicated to the flow - Charlie Puth gives the song a nice male register that gives it some color. 'You Gotta Not' follows through with a same brass and punchiness, abandoning the sillier timbre and putting on a more progressive face.
The songs at the core of the album are the absolute peak of Glory Days, though. It begins with 'Down & Dirty,' moving away from the good girl attitude the group may be pigeonholed into. It's a genuinely badass track with elements of trap in it, complete with some sensual and almost aggressive vocals. It comes as a complete surprise, too; up until this point, the songs were pretty safe sounding. This one dares to express something through sensuality. The instrumental is phenomenal, with the harmonies sounding powerful.
The same is true for the follow up 'Power.' It almost sounds like a rock track. It's introduced by Perrie Edwards with a raspy timbre, Jesy Nelson joining her to add some edge to the track. Jade Thirlwall takes control of the chorus, belting out notes as if she were Demi Lovato. The post-chorus follows through with some huge synths and bouncy synths, similar to the bridge in which Leigh-Anne Pinnock comes in with some sweeter vocals. The final chorus sees all of the group coming together as one, the powerful synths supporting it behind them - this track is truly the pinnacle of the record.
Like any album, however, this doesn't come quite close enough to perfection. The large majority of Glory Days is solid. It's full of good pop tracks, but most of the songs are something you'd hear on the radio and not really put much thought into. They don't reach the same amount of energy that others do, making them less memorable. It really sells itself away by the end of the record - 'Nothing Else Matters' concludes the record, its vibe there but already present throughout the rest of the album, making it an end that falls short.
Little Mix certainly surprised on this record. Glory Days is a confident pop record, full of great moments. Not every song really reaches a memorable peak, but its a sweet and solid record to kick back and listen to if you need some energy or something to relate to. They start moving away from their good girl status and develop a riskier sound, too, showing that the group isn't afraid to change things up. Glory Days is a bright new frontier for Little Mix.
Favorite Tracks: Power, Down & Dirty, Shout Of To My Ex
Least Favorite Track: Nothing Else Matters
Rating: 80 / 100
And just like that, she's back. We knew it was coming but it's still hard to take it in - Lady Gaga is back with new music! A week ago, a fansite found details of a single scheduled for release on September 9, and it's all solidified!
'Perfect Illusion' is Gaga's long-awaited return to the music world. It sounds like Gaga has reinvented herself since she put a pause on music for awhile. 'Perfect Illusion' starts off with clean guitar and a bassy synth as sparkly synths build into the first verse. Gaga seems to be channeling Demi Lovato as well as her own grandiose in her vocal approach - the high and powerful pre-chorus leading in from softer verses serves as a big contrast between them. The instrumental is put on the backburner as the song tunes into Gaga instead of the rest of the music, her vocals as powerful as ever.
As great as it is to have Gaga back, it's really hard to really appreciate this song. There's just a lot of inconsistencies and places it just didn't go. For one, the mixing seems to have taken the instrumental and put it on the backburner. By backburner, I mean it sounds like the song was mixed five minutes before it was released. Gaga's vocals are so loud above the instrumental and it kills the bass that could be supporting her higher voice. Gaga's vocals are great but without that big, in-your-face synth instrumental this song feels empty. Listening to Gaga yell "Perfect illusion" for two straight minutes isn't exactly the most fun listening experience, either. Take that and the lack of meat in the instrumental and you're left with a super underwhelming track.
I'm as happy to see Lady Gaga back as the next person, but 'Perfect Illusion' doesn't feel like the appropriate come back. There's just nothing to dig into with it. It has Gaga, and that's about all the credit you can give. The song is written badly, mixed badly, and there's no bass beyond the intro. If Gaga has more planned, let's hope they feel more big. You can't have Lady Gaga and underwhelming in the same sentence.
You can listen to 'Perfect Illusion' via Apple Music.
Rating: 50 / 100