The 2011 winners of Britain's The X Factor TV show, four-piece girl group Little Mix deliver a slick, high-energy mix of dance-oriented pop music with their debut full-length album, 2012's DNA. Showcased here are the soulful vocals (and various British accents) of Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards from the coastal town of South Shields, Jesy Nelson from the East London neighborhood of Romford, and Leigh-Anne Pinnock from the High Wycombe area of Buckinghamshire. Working with a bevy of big-name producer/songwriters including Steve Mac (the Wanted, the Saturdays, JLS) and TMS (Professor Green, Emeli Sandé) as well as Jon Levine (Nelly Furtado, Selena Gomez), Diplo, and others, Little Mix deliver a fun, catchy mix of pop songs that showcases the slight differences in each member's personality and vocal style while never detracting from the overall girl group aesthetic. To these ends, we get a handful of truly catchy, infectious cuts including the pounding, electronic-infused title track, the yearning, Rihanna-esque ballad "Always Be Together," and the flirty female empowerment anthem "How Ya Doin'?," which sounds a lot like Beyoncé fronting the '90s acid-jazz R&B ensemble the Brand New Heavies. Ultimately, while DNA certainly makes good on Little Mix's promise of updating the '90s sound of En Vogue and TLC, it's also just a solidly enjoyable, radio-ready pop album.
by Matt Collar