Little Mix offer up feminist confidence and a lot of fun in their catchy new record LM5.Read More
If yesterday's review of Little Mix's new album didn't prove that musical preconceptions can be false, DNCE certainly will. The dance rock group, probably more known as Joe Jonas's new musical project, is here with one of 2016's grooviest records yet with their self-titled DNCE.
DNCE is no Jonas Brothers rip off. It's like the lovechild of The 1975 and Two Door Cinema Club. It's laced with sugary guitar chords and a R&B flair, creating a textbook definition of funk rock. The album kicks off with the eponymous track 'DNCE,' beginning with a sweet harmonies as the group spells out the band's name. It carries through with some bright, punchy synths and optimistic brass above the sweet instrumental. Jonas' vocals are full of groove in a very smooth way. 'Body Moves' follows up with a crunchy bassline and some sweet melodies backing it. The choruses burst with funky flair, the bridge bursting with a crunchy guitar riff that builds up with brass support to lead it into the sparkly break.
A lot of this album feels like a big party. 'Cake By The Ocean' is one song that really finds itself in that setting. The dancey bassline repeating throughout the record, the choruses exploding with sparkling synth chords and great melodies. The guitar work is fantastic, while understated, especially in the second verse. It rings so groovily and sugary, it feels likes its dancing completely separately from the track. 'Doctor You' follows up in much the same way, Jonas' vocals smoothly and sensually resonating above the crunchy riff. The melodies are the ear candy of the song, very bombastic and proud. The song 'Naked' later on in the record also features the bombastic vibe. some falsetto vocals from JinJoo Lee giving the song a fresh palette.
There are a lot of great songs on this record, but several of them are just that - good songs building off the same vibes. No track is a carbon copy of the other, but often times the songs cling to a specific vibe. 'Be Mean' has the same proud and bright vibes of 'Naked,' albeit a bit masochistic, but doesn't try to move on from that. Laidback tracks like 'Almost' ring sweetly in the otherwise upfront tracklist, but 'Truthfully' repeats this formula, with less build to a climax and with more of a pop vibe. The easygoing, lazy 'Good Day' has that laidback structure that really builds the entire album, except that it doesn't use other elements to make it seem otherwise.
DNCE is a surprising threat to pop and funk music. This unexpected group abandons preconceptions and has an infectious sound that ranks amongst the top contenders of the genre. DNCE is a great debut - a great album to jam out to in any scenario. There's promise in this band.
Favorite Tracks: Cake By The Ocean, Doctor You, Almost
Least Favorite Track: Zoom
Rating: 80 / 100
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