London girl group Stooshe have done pretty well for themselves since their formation in 2010. Originally moulded as an ‘urban’ version of the spice girls, (yes, really) they may not have become as legendary just yet, but their catchy, soulful music with its sixties vibe and plenty of attitude has definitely made them stand out from the crowd. Their album, London With the Lights On, embodies this style to the max.
It kicks in immediately with the catchy ‘Slip’, a pop-infused number, followed by ‘Jimmy’; a kind of sixties Mo-town influenced track, which sounds like something from the Dreamgirl’s soundtrack. Chart toppers ‘Black Heart’ and ‘Love Me’ also feature on the album. As their first single, ‘Love Me’ reached number five in the charts, and it flaunts attitude with the sassy talk, rapping and innuendos: “Get it up, poke it in, blow my mind!” ‘Black Heart’ is another success, but for different reasons. The track is much slower-paced as the trio sing about “falling for a monster,” yet still as catchy as the former hit.
The cheese factor is increased in ‘My Man Music’ vibe; although it is perfect for a day at the beach. It’s slightly annoying and repetitive, with some parts sounding like they could feature on the track list for a ten-year old’s disco: “Step left step right, pull your knees tight.” The vocal accents of the girls are prominently Jamaican, but also switch randomly to west-country, proving that Stooshe certainly don’t take themselves too seriously!
‘Put The Kettle On’ is probably the catchiest song on the album. Once again, as the title might suggest, the lyrics are far from meaningful, but this suits the nature of the song. The powerful combination of voices harmonising together in the chorus is engaging, alongside funky guitar twangs and a driving drum beat. There is even a reference to Timberland’s “take me to the chorus” expression he uses in Justin Timberlake’s ‘Sexyback’, emphasising the humour and cheekiness of Stooshe’s style.
There is some variety to London With The Lights On, however. Several songs tone down and relax the mood, which is a refreshing change to the fun-loving fairground ride you’ve just been on. ‘Perfectly Wrong’ is a personal favourite of mine. It is a little more diverse with the use of house beats, subdued through the verses and then fully kicking in at the chorus. Violins fuse with striking harmonies which intensify at the height of the chorus, producing a sugar-sweet sound. ‘Fly Again’ is even softer. Stripped from production and led solely by a piano, attention is drawn to vocals which are Stooshe’s strength. This said, the song doesn’t really seem to suit them: it lacks originality, attitude and flair, and is a little boring in comparison to the energy throughout the rest of the album.
London With The Lights On is not an album I would play on repeat, and comes with a warning: do not listen if you’re in a bad mood. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly catchy and fun; nothing less than I would expect from the group. It’s an essential listen if you enjoyed singles ‘Black Heart’ and ‘Love Me’.