Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown is the 2002 second album Feels So Good by female pop trio Atomic Kitten, but is a fluffy bundle of joy, or like finding warm vomit in your shoe? Read on…
This 14 track album begins with lead single It’s OK!, which is quite a mellow, slick little pop song. It’s full of acoustic guitars and strings, as the Kittens effortlessly sing over the top. At times, it reminds me of some of the softer Sugababes and Billie Piper songs. This single gave them a #3 UK hit.
Next up is Love Won’t Wait, co-written by 00’s pop svengali Rob Davis. This song is far more bouncy and up-beat, and has a welcoming echo of Kylie’s huge hit Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, which he co-wrote with Cathy Dennis. The song flows perfectly through the verse, with more than a generous nod to the disco era with some funky bass and strings thrown in. Natasha, Jenny and Liz all put in a great vocal performance and harmonise perfectly.
This is followed by their huge hit, The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling) which is a cover of the Blondie hit, and The Paragons 1967 original (no, I hadn’t realised that, either). This is a pretty faithful cover of Blondie’s version, given a fresh beat and vocal. Apparently there’s also a version in Spanish.
The pace picks up again for the title track Feels So Good, which has some really nice synth sounds as the bit races on. Again the vocals here really shine. This track was co-written by Kylie Minogue and donated to the group – but it’s easy to imagine Kylie singing this one. The Kittens handle it perfectly though, and it bounces along with ease like all light pop songs should.
Walking On The Water is up next, which opens with a tinkling synth and an almost underwater submarine sound before a wave of strings arrive. The slick RnB-ish beat returns, giving us a song that feels a bit like an X Factor winner’s single.
A nice thick bassline ushers in next song The Moment You Leave Me, as a little acoustic guitar sequence teases. This is a really nice up-beat, bright song, with oodles of ‘oooh’ing and Britney-esque groaning ‘oh’s vocal harmonies. There’s even a Hanson moment of ‘Yeeaaaaaahhhhh’. This is very catchy and probably should have made it as a single.
Third single (a Double A) The Last Goodbye is up next. There’s a nice affected synth, with some crackling vintage vinyl all helping to show off the more mature sound that the Kittens can pull off with ease. What is probably a trademark Atomic Kitten beat (at least here on this album), sits perfectly underneath yet more warm, rich vocals. Looping acoustic guitars help to justify the crackling vinyl as you realise that it’s pretending to have vinyl scratching. This mid-tempo, soft song, is really cosy and warm, and definitely fits the lyrics. Brilliant, despite the obligatory 00’s ballad key change. The song gave them a #2 UK hit single.
Eighth track Love Doesn’t Have To Hurt follows this, and is a bit of a middle-of-the-road song. This acted as their fourth and final single from this album. Despite it’s well trodden path, it gave them a #4 hit. At times it vocally reminds me of Natalie Imbruglia.
Disco comes bursting back in for Softer The Touch, as the tempo picks up again. There’s handclaps, funky bass, wah wah, breathy vocals, and flittering violins. This is their equivalent to S Club 7’s Don’t Stop Movin’, and has some harmony and musical echoes of ABBA too. This really should have made it as a single, as it surely would have given them another huge hit.
The Way That You Are follows, bringing us back to a bass-heavy RnB slick track. Amongst the warm vocal harmonies, and funky wah-wah guitar, there seems to be a bit of flute too. At times it sounds like it could have been a Spice Girls album track, or even an NSYNC track. It’s a pretty good track, but doesn’t break new ground.
A bassy simple synth loop gives next song Baby Don’t U Hurt Me quite a stand-out song here. It’s simple – plodding, and really works well with it’s simple beat over the top, as the Kittens weave their vocal melodies over the top. They are occasionally joined by a tinkling synth, but over all this is quite a stripped track and it works really well.
So Hot follows with its racing beats. There’s a brooding menace here, that I’ve only previously heard from the Sugababes and Girls Aloud (think Sound Of The Underground). It’s speed helps to make it a foot-tapping catchy number, and its definitely worth a listen.
The lights go down with the tempo for Maybe I’m Right. This time we’ve got some creaky, growly, vocals in the verses as we reach the ballad zone again. The ‘baa doo duh daa’ part helps to make this catchy, but it’s a nice song.
After opening like yet another Atomic Kitten ballad meets Eldorado TV theme, closing track No One Loves You (Like I Love You) oddly switches to an orchestra-laden, breathy vocal song, with pianos. The vocals are warm and big here despite their downbeat descending tone and chord sequence. Sweeping strings, percussion, brass and a scattering of Spanish guitar all help to make this quite a big teary ending song. A wonderful ending, showing of their vocals perfectly. This could have had Christmas hit all over it…
Over all, this is a nice strong pop album by a group that was at their peak. Whilst the choice of singles feels a little too safe, it didn’t harm them commercially. There’s some really nice wanderings into disco (Softer The Touch), great pop gems (Feels So Good, Love Won’t Wait), and some more respectful adventures (No One Loves You.. and Baby Don’t U Hurt Me). All in all, a great album, and unsurprisingly a hit.
Where are Atomic Kitten now?
Atomic Kitten continued to record, perform, and release music, but their attempt to crack the US market failed, with a blended US album (of their first two albums) failing to perform.
Their third album, Ladies Night gave them a #5 UK hit album and a string of top 10 hit UK singles. That position was matched by their career retrospective The Greatest Hits, which reached #5 in 2004.
The group officially disbanded in 2004, they would still make occasional one-off appearances. Whilst Natasha Hamilton took time out to raise a family, Jenny Frost and Liz McClarnon both found themselves in television presenting roles, or occasionally acting.
Their singles fare less well, with their final charting UK single Anyone Who Had A Heart (a cover of Cilla Black’s 1964 #1 UK hit) scraping a low #77 in 2008, but it was at least taken from a charity album of Liverpool hit songs by Liverpudlian artists. They’d probably have a hit with it since the increase of interest in Cilla’s discography following her death in 2015.
The group returned in 2012, this time without Jenny Frost, and instead re-united with original member Kerry Katona as part of The Big Reunion TV series.
Whilst several reports were made about new albums and singles, a 15th anniversary world tour, and tours with East 17 and All Saints in 2014, none of these eventually came to light.
We can only assume that the kittens are still waiting to pounce once again, amidst Celebrity Big Brother appearances, and Christmas Party Night gigs in Milton Keynes.
POP RESCUE RATING
- POP RESCUE 2016 RATING: 4 / 5
- 2002 UK CHART PEAK: #1, certified 2x Platinum.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.45 from a Sue Ryder store.