Conrad Duncan in awe of Sharon Van Etten at the InstituteWritten by Conrad Duncan on 23rd January 2015
Album Review: Cheryl – Million Lights
On paper, Cheryl Cole should be a distant memory, remembered rather than hailed
On paper, Cheryl Cole should be a distant memory, remembered rather than hailed. After all, since her departure from the X-Factor Cole has had nothing but bad press: humiliated in the US, shunned for her second rate vocal performances and criticized for her fashion choices. However, despite the headlines, Million Lights has arguably been the most anticipated album of the year, catapulting the reinvented ‘nations sweetheart’ back into the limelight.It seems that while the media attempted to kick up a fuss about her disappearance over the last year (has she become a recluse? Has she broken down? Is she back with Ashley?) Cole has in fact been hard at work, doing what she does best, producing A-grade pop, and Million Lights is the evidence for this.
'Call My Name', which is set to become the fastest selling single of the year is, is the perfect lead single. Produced by Calvin Harris, at first listen it sounds just as you expect, however a few listens later you find yourself unable to escape its catchy hooks and jabbing synth lines until it becomes so imprinted in your brain that its the one song that you cannot wait to hear, whether it be on the radio, in your room or on a night out. Capturing the same charisma as Rihanna’s 'We Found Love', 'Call My Name' provides a great foundation for the albums success.
However, this track is not fully representative of the albums overall sound. In fact it is dominated by mid-tempo, dub-infused ballads that ooze the kind of sexual energy that Cole is famed for. 'Ghetto Baby' captures the classy, melancholy nature of its writer, Lana Del Rey, but is made more pop by its electro drumbeats that pulsate beneath the sultry semi-spoken vocal line, resulting in something both seductive and addictive. Similarly, 'Craziest Things', in which her manager Will.I.Am features, has a slow moving dub-beat infused with cleverly auto-tuned vocals, creating a more futuristic progressive sound that lacked in her previous solo-albums.
Admittedly, much of the albums appeal will be its commentary on her past relationships and personal life. For example, in 'Screw You', a track crammed with attitude, Cole blatantly uses her private-life-made-public to further improve the album sales. Yet this should not detract from the music. No, it isn't groundbreaking, nor is it is glimpse into the future of pop, but it is pop at its best. Catchy, infectious, well produced, and most importantly incredibly well marketed which as a result marks Cheryl’s return to the public eye and once again re-affirms that she is not to be forgotten.