Words: Joe Passmore
Two years after the release of the mammoth success of Glory Days, the world’s biggest girl group’s fifth record arrives in the form of the conveniently titled LM5.
With smash hit after smash hit, our December issue cover stars Little Mix are known for their triumphant singles discography, but something they’ve never quite managed, is to be taken seriously as an albums act.
Sounding “more mature” is a common buzz-phrase for pop artists on the promotional circuit for a new album, but LM5 does make genuine effort to step away from the always infectious but often Disney-fied pop that we have come to expect from them.
Though the lyrics on some tracks are still a little on the nose, the overall sound is more cohesive, polished and confident than their past two records in particular; which were a slightly confusing mish-mash of tropical, doo-wop and sugary pop tracks. With a slight lift production wise, LM5 is more in line with their sophomore album, Salute, which was largely influenced by pop R&B.
After the short acapella ‘National Manthem’, we go straight into the lead single ‘Woman Like Me’, which, although has proved to be one of their most divisive lead singles to date, is a good representation of the change of sound for the rest of the album.
While there isn’t anything quite as bubblegum pop as ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ or 'Black Magic', LM5 offers ‘Joan of Arc’, ‘American Boy’, ‘Wasabi’, and ‘Motivate’ as fun and uptempo rhythmic bangers as well as ‘Love a Girl Right’, which you’re sure to enjoy... If you’re a fan of Sisqó's ‘Thong Song’.
Recently-announced second single ‘Strip’, continues on the female empowerment narrative that runs through Little Mix’s discography. But it isn’t as saccharine as say, ‘Change Your Life’, and is instead a bold, confident and unapologetic celebration of body confidence and self worth.
Structure-wise, it’s possibly their riskiest single choice to date, with its first 30 seconds being almost entirely acapella and constant changes in tempo throughout its 3 minutes and 19 second runtime.
‘Think About Us’ stands out for not trying be as adventurous as the rest of LM5, but it's slight Latin vibe is on trend and it sounds like an easily consumable radio single, so it’s clear why it made the final cut.
Doing a good girl group ballad is not an easy task, but the girls excel on ‘Monster in Me’, which is surprisingly dark lyrically, as it seems to highlight the complications of a destructive relationship, as Perrie sings ‘Touch Me, why don’t we kill each other slowly’.
There’s a greater emphasis on vocals here compared to Glory Days, as the girls give us plenty of the harmonies that made us fall in love with them seven years ago - and Leigh-Anne shines more than ever.
Overall, LM5 a step up for Little Mix. It may not be the big bubbly pop album some fans want, but Jesy, Leigh Anne Perrie and Jade are really beginning to explore their sound and show us the music they want to make.
Highlights: 'Motivate', 'Monster In Me', 'Wasabi', 'American Boy'
LM5 is out on Friday November 16.
Read the full interview with Little Mix in the December issue of Attitude, out now.