Patrick Stump – Soul Punk
I’m not a fan of either Fall Out Boy or Michael Jackson, so why I’d want to listen to the lead singer of Fall Out Boy impersonating Michael Jackson is beyond me… but I do! It all started with Patrick’s debut solo single Spotlight, which I fell in love with last December, not even realising who the singer was. The ensuing obsession even inspired one of my most popular blog posts. His debut album was finally released this month, and while most of the tracks are just OK (which is still a huge improvement from the FOB days!) there is one in particular I’m obsessed with called I in Lie. It’s dramatic, complex and ridiculous. It starts just interesting but builds into quite a pop masterpiece. Along with Spotlight, I in Lie shows what a great modern pop album this could have been if it was consistently at this level. Many of the other tracks have flashes of greatness too, so the album as a whole is worth checking out, but give Spotlight and I in Lie a listen first.
Aqua – Megalomania
Aqua’s comeback album won’t go down as a classic Europop album but in a year that’s so far been quite lacking in catchy Euro goodness, it’s a very welcome release. This album doesn’t stand a chance of achieving the same success Aqua had in their heyday, but for fans who appreciated their two first albums (not just the comedy value of Barbie Girl) it’s a very enjoyable combination of the band’s original sound and the sound of 2011. You can see the RedOne influence in tracks like Viva Las Vegas and How R U Doin is exactly how you’d imagine David Guetta-inspired Aqua to sound. However, tracks such as Kill Myself and Sucker For A Superstar are classic Aqua. It’s hard for any act to release a new album ten years after their original success, but I think Megalomania is a great follow-up to Aquarium and Aquarius, even if its name disappointingly doesn’t begin with Aqua. Surely they could have gone with Aquatics or Aquaduct?
Nicola Roberts – Cinderella’s Eyes
A Nicola Roberts solo album was something I never even dared to imagine could exist. She was my favourite in Popstars: The Rivals and remained my fave throughout Girls Aloud, but she was always known as the unpopular one (even if she was the clear fave among us pop nerds) so it seemed impossible she would get the chance to record a solo album. However it did happen and my dream that it would sound like Siobhan Donaghy wasn’t even too far off the mark! If I’m honest, I’m not too keen on Nicola’s newfound love of falsetto, but I love the style of music she has chosen for her solo work and I like every song on the album. I just think it would be perfect without the annoying high bits, so it’s a bit sad that the opportunity for perfection has been missed. I’ve had the album for a few weeks and am no closer to picking my favourites, but recommend you listen to Say It Out Loud and Fish Out Of Water to get a taste of the fun and more mature sides of the album. Then buy it and support Nicola so next time, she can make that perfect album she’s capable of!
Natalia Kills – Perfectionist
I was completely ambivalent toward Natalia Kills (apart from loving the fact that she used to be Verbalicious) until one day I had a random urge to listen to her album. I was surprisingly impressed and ended up listening to nothing else on my iPod for the rest of the week. While I still don’t like Natalia as a pop persona, she’s actually released a fantastic album. It’s much more fun than she is and it’s quite a shame it wasn’t recorded by an artist who could take it to a wider audience, but at least those of us who bother to investigate can enjoy it. Most of the tracks have the dark themes Natalia is known for, but never at the loss of a catchy chorus. Girly shopping anthem Free sounds quite out of place, but is good enough that it doesn’t matter. There’s a hint of Gaga in most of the tracks and a definite 90s dance influence. For those who miss the days when we didn’t have to share Gaga’s music with everyone but the world’s grumpiest losers, Perfectionist is a great album that we will probably never have to share with anyone but the most hardcore pop obsessives.