Right now Little Mix are on non-stop joyride of success. In the past year the girl-group have released their last album Get Weird, been on the promotional trail for three singles, gone on tour across the UK, Europe and Asia, achieving the highest selling UK arena tour of 2016, made numerous appearances on TV and at festivals, released a new perfume and a book, added a fourth number one single to their name with Shout Out To My Ex and achieved their first number one album with their newest release Glory Days. And to think, I can’t even write one essay without having to slip into a coma for a year.
Glory Days in many ways follows the established pattern set by Little Mix’s earlier releases. The album is dominated by upbeat pop numbers, perfectly suited for their energetic live performances (see their Brit Awards performance for a standout example) but is balanced with slower R&B/Motown inspired songs that demonstrate the vocal talents of each member individually but also their flawless four-part harmonies.
Despite Glory Days’ formulaic track breakdown, the album does bring something new with regards to the group’s lyrics. Little Mix, who unlike a lot of pop acts formed on reality TV actually get involved in the writing of their songs, have been largely reluctant to openly address the more adult aspects of relationships in their songs. This is mostly due to their sizable under-16 fan base. However building on songs like A.D.I.D.A.S. (All I Dream About Sex) from Get Weird, Little Mix have now thrown off their previous infantilised image and are ready to openly admit to dreaming about jumping on a boy’s dick, courtesy of Beep Beep. This adult tone brings refreshing honesty to Little Mix’s music and actually opens up their appeal to a much wider, young adult audience, all the while reinforcing the message that you don’t have to be chaste to be about that #girlpower.
In terms of musical genre Glory Days follows the dominant music industry trends and introduces a lot more EDM inspirations to Little Mix’s brand of pop. This is particularly effective on songs like No More Sad Songs and Freak that use an electronic backing track in conjunction with the group’s vocals to create memorable, dynamic and dance-worthy tracks. Conversely, Down & Dirty takes a different approach to electronic music influence, featuring a classic EDM drop at the chorus. This unfortunately falls flat, as the electronic melodies used are unoriginal and not as unique as other electronic tracks in charts at the moment. Another EDM-inspired track that stumbles just before pop perfection is Power. Full of infectious energy and fierce attitude the song, for the most part, is a stand out of the album. However it suffers from overkill as the melody is joined by an introduction of engine noises and sections where member Jesy Nelson chants “morotbike” for some unknown reason, as this vehicular theme isn’t reflected in the lyrics. Take these parts out and its one hell of a pop song though.
If you haven’t listened to any of Little Mix’s previous albums, the fact that the largely electro-pop Glory Days also features a smattering of Doo-Wop/Motown influences may seem slightly incongruous but the group often brings this sound into their albums in order to showcase how their voices work seamlessly together. This goal is definitely reached, as one large takeaway from the album is that every member of Little Mix has great vocal talent. In fact, of all the pop groups to find success in recent years, both male and female, Little Mix certainly stands out for me as one of the most musically gifted. Despite this, these songs provide the low points of the album. The sole feature of the album, Oops featuring Charlie Puth, is probably the weakest song on Glory Days, with Puth adding very little to the song causing it to be generally forgettable.
Overall Glory Days is a solid addition to the Little Mix discography. With its feet firmly placed in pop, it reaffirms that the group deserve their place at the pinnacle of mainstream British music. Nonetheless, Glory Days falls just short of greatness - it’s amplified ambitions overshadow the band’s talents.