Following an over five-year hiatus from their pop music careers, an eternity in today's mercurial music frenzy, All Saints members Shaznay Lewis, Melanie Blatt, Nicole Appleton, and Natalie Appleton needed to make a big splash on the scene in order to recapture the success they garnered from their 1997 self-titled sampling. However, the slow pop grooves that launched their careers in 1997 were not going to cut it some ten years later. Therefore, on Studio 1, the third album by the quartet, All Saints shifted away from the music style that nostalgically kept them as has-beens. On Studio 1, listeners hear a more spurred dance version of the Saints, who've shifted their music to R&B, yet overlay it in striking layers of electric pop. The results are strong; the galactic rhythm and blues is a lovely sound from the four girls, who, like Pop Rocks candy, jump and bounce with sweet beats that suit both radio and club dancefloors. Radio hits like "Rock Steady" and "Chick Fit" are solid dance hits, with enticing grooves and kicking tracks. The girls also slow it down impressively, with melodic slow-moving cuts like "Fundamental" and "One Me and U." Unfortunately, while all the music is appealing, it lacks personality and character. The tracks, all composed by Shaznay Lewis and Greg Kurstin, bear no emotional value, and the girls' voices are indistinguishable from one another and digitally enhanced to the point of obscurity. Like a giant corporate birthday gateau, the music is all frosting, no cake, and it borders on sickly. There is no sign of the All Saints from ten years ago, who used to be bona fide pop stars who could actually pen a tune and shed a tear. Ultimately, the music is punching but not powerful, and Shaznay, Nicole, Natalie, and Melanie have all sold out in hopes of restarting their pop careers as if from square one. Had Studio 1 been a debut album by a pop group in 2005 or 2006, it may have been one of the best pop albums in many years, given its infectious cursory beats. However, for the Saints it's a disappointment, because their musical career was always more fleshed-out. Studio 1 is a giant leap for the quartet, just in the wrong direction.
AllMusic Review by Matthew Chisling