Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain future, is the 2008 album Chasing Lights by girl group The Saturdays. Will this album be a shining Light in your collection, or will you be hoping for a power cut? Read on…
The album opens with the unmistakable sampled synth riff of Yazoo‘s 1990 UK hit single Situation, except that this track is If This Is Love, the album’s lead single. The vocals are richly layered from breathy gasps to warm harmonies. They build perfectly into the chorus. The track returns to that synth line that ambles along throughout. The result is a really nice electronic sounding, with great pop vocals, giving this opening song plenty of catchy interest. The debut single landed at #8 in the summer of 2008.
That’s followed by second single Up, and this has a similar bleeping synth-filled sound and plodding tempo. The vocals here are strong, with remarkable diction, and reminds me a little of their label-mates Girls Aloud. Again, the track is a nice building catchy song. The public agreed, rewarding them with a #5 UK hit single.
Next up is Keep Her, and this is a flip to an angrier tone, ‘shut up and read my lips, ’cause boy you make me sick‘ the ladies sing, and they sound like they damn well mean it. A deeper growling synth line is here too, but it matches in with the theme of the song, serving as a bass too. The Saturdays’ vocal harmonies really shine here, and lean towards the sound of the Sugababes.
By contrast, that’s followed by a wash of acoustic guitars of Issues. The track was the album’s third single. This is a gentle sad broken love song, and the chorus carries the somewhat issue-filled line of ‘can’t decide if i should stab you or kiss you‘. Definitely issues there, ladies. For such a bright, warm, summery sounding acoustic love song, it certainly defies it’s style with those kinds of words. Still, it somehow beat the earlier singles, and gave them their biggest hit so far upon release – reaching #4 in the UK chart.
Lies follows this, and returns us to an upbeat sound. The vocal and their harmonies once again really shine here, and the track is again laden with chugging synth pads. However, the acoustic guitar returns here and there’s just a few moments where you can hear it creeping through in the mix. The track is nice enough, but lacks the catchiness of the first two singles.
Fifth and final single Work is next, bursting open with a menagerie of synths bleeping away throughout. This is a return to catchy form of earlier songs, completely with some sexually provocative lyrics. The ladies’ vocals are flawless again, and given plenty of space and time to show off their power and range. Despite this, the track stumbled in the UK charts, giving them a moderate #22 single.
The album’s title track Chasing Lights is next, and this gives a softer mid-tempo track. The acoustic guitars are back, and the synths have a break. In their place are oodles of vocals and harmonies over soft synth soundscapes and harp-like sweeps. The song is definitely album territory, and to be honest, could have been recorded by anyone resulting in the same song.
Some rapid acoustic guitars usher us into Set Me Off, which throws in a beat, synth and vocal style that reminds me instantly of Britney Spears‘ Womanizer. That aside, it is a wonderful track and really should have made it as a single instead of Issues.
It’s time for piano ballad in the shape of Fall. It’s a fairly paint-by-numbers heartfelt ballad, giving the ladies turns in taking the lead vocals. The benefit of this, is that it does allow them to show their vocals off well, with the harmonies coming in for the chorus. The result though, is a song that feels like a generic girl group filler. It does at least pick up with a wall of sound in the last minute, with some impressive high reaching vocals.
Sampled guitar and a simple beat leads us into Vulnerable. Again, the ladies get plenty of space to show of their vocals but the track sounds a bit disjointed in its journey, with a strange shift between verses and chorus.
Penultimate track is Why Me, Why Now, and this track is a really nice bouncy song, and at times makes me wonder whether it’s trying to be 60’s sounding. It even has a slightly could-have-been Christmassy vibe to it. At times, I can hear Amy Winehouse in the lower register sharper vocals, and the synths bubble along underneath. A lovely little pop song.
The album closes with Up (Wideboys Remix Edit), which is a harder and synth-laden mix of the second single. At 3m 1s, it’s more than 1 minute shorter than the album track, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking – it’s heavier and gives more oomph to the vocals.
Over all, this album is a great debut for a group who would have joined a somewhat crowded market, even from their own label (Girls Aloud). The synth-laden tracks are a joy to hear, and give a nod to 80’s synth pop as well as 00’s dance pop. Whilst comparisons to Girls Aloud and Sugababes are inevitable here, most of the tracks have plenty of interest to them that would allow the group to stand out.
The strongest tracks are If This Is Love, Up, and Why Me, Why You, and Set Me Off (which really should have been a single). The weakest parts of the album are very much Fall and Vulnerable, two tracks that really could have been left out for lacking in energy and just generally too dull to remember.
Later editions of this album included their Depeche Mode cover (their fourth and highest charting single from this album) Just Can’t Get Enough, released for Comic Relief, giving Vince Clarke yet another writer’s credit.
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 4 / 5
- 2008 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #9, certified Platinum by the BPI.
- POP RESCUE COST: 45p from a Discogs.com seller.