Liberty X

Thinking It Over

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Thinking It Over, released just over a year after the members of Liberty X failed to win ITV's Popstars competition (which branded them as "Flopstars"), is a master class in how to bury the reality pop tag. While Hear'Say's debut is dated, plastic, and soulless, Liberty X's first offering is a strong collection of pop songs incorporating garage, R&B, and soul. Indeed, listening to the album, you begin to wonder how none of the members managed to be selected in the Popstars show, as vocally they are head and shoulders above their rivals, particularly Kevin Simm and Kelli Young, whose honey-smooth tones work together brilliantly on the likes of "Doin' It" and "Wanting Me Tonight." Of course, "Just a Little" is the track that this album will be remembered for. Arguably the defining pop song of 2002, it still sounds fresh despite the overload of airplay it's received, with the opening "Sexy..." being one of the most inspired pop lyrics of the noughties. But they're far from a one-trick pony. "Got to Have Your Love" is a subtle update of the Mantronix classic; "Holding on for You" proves they can do heartfelt balladry down to a T; and "No Clouds" shows Hear'Say how to do bouncy uplifting pop without sounding contrived. It's not faultless by any means. Several tracks toward the end are distinctly filler-ish and the lazy "Never Give Up," at just under 90 seconds long, is a strange anticlimactic way to close an album that is bubbling with energy. But this is a refreshing attempt at R&B-infused pop that never once tries to imitate its U.S. counterparts but does leave its U.K. contemporaries trailing in its wake.

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