Defying convention, the winners of the TV reality talent show Pop Stars: The Rivals recorded and released a second album featuring a handful of big hit singles and not a song in sight that had been performed on the show. What Will the Neighbours Say? was the second album by the girl group Girls Aloud, and it had a head start with singles, since "Jump" had already been added as a bonus track to the first album, Sound of the Underground, to squeeze a few extra sales out of that debut, and had also been heavily featured in the film and soundtrack to Love Actually (heard during one of the film's more amusing moments when the Prime Minister played by Hugh Grant dances solo around the interior of 10 Downing Street). "Jump" was, of course, also well-known as a major 1980s hit by the Pointer Sisters. Throughout 2004, the singles were released thick and fast, including "The Show," a new song created by the production team of Brian Higgins and Xenomania, and "Love Machine," which inspired the title of the album with a lyric asking "What will the neighbours say this time?" (itself a reference to a lyric from their breakthrough hit, "Sound of the Underground," in which they sing about "neighbours banging on the bathroom wall"). "Love Machine" was their fourth single to peak at number two, and just as they may have been thinking they would never scale the summit again, the next single, a cover of the Pretenders' "I'll Stand by You" (previously released as the 2004 Children in Need charity single) hit number one the week before the album was released. The album's running order is top-heavy, with the five singles comprising the first five tracks -- not that this really mattered in the days of downloads and track cherry-picking, but that did leave the second half of the album rather thin on killer tracks, particularly considering that Girls Aloud are, after all, more of a singles act than an album-oriented one. "Deadlines & Diets" could well have described the current state of the girls' hectic lives, although one is left wondering about the lyric "Deadlines, diets and devious men," and it was surprising -- if not a little annoying and clichéd -- to hear a 1970s-style voicebox à la Peter Frampton. However, the track "I Say a Prayer for You" on the U.K. bonus tracks edition is a pleasant Spice Girls-type ballad.
AllMusic Review by Sharon Mawer