For Little Mix, longevity is the name of the game. Since winning The X Factor (UK) in 2011, the British girl group has gone on to achieve the kind of sustained success that has evaded girl groups for the past decade or so. Despite their difficulty breaking into the U.S. market, Little mix has scored five consecutive Top 5 albums in the U.K., 16 Top 10 hits, and 4 #1 singles. They are one of the most successful girl groups of all time, and for the most part, the girls have consistently delivered truly great pop music anchored by their gorgeous vocals and tight harmonies. Their last album, LM5, was a step in the right direction with its conscious maturity and versatility. Unfortunately, Confetti, for all of its bubbly dance-pop anthems, is ultimately a regression. The album’s attempt at effervescence is futile because of the vapidity of these songs. There isn’t anything new or interesting on Confetti, and everything the girls are singing about on this album has been handled much more creatively on their previous records. There are a few high points, but Confetti is a subtle but unmistakable confirmation that Little Mix has peaked both artistically and commercially.
Of the songs that were released before the full album — “Break Up Song,” “Holiday,” and “Sweet Melody” — the first and the third are largely what keep Confetti from completely falling apart. “Break Up Song” plays on the the 80s pop music trend that has dominated Top 40 this year (just ask The Weeknd, Miley, Gaga, Dua, etc.), and, honestly, the song’s sound should have formed a larger part of Confetti‘s sonic foundation. The song’s euphoric production presents a smart contrast to its slightly melancholic lyrics which makes the euphoria more believable. Little Mix spends most of Confetti’s runtime trying to sell escapism through dance-pop but the production and lyrics simply aren’t interesting enough to pull it off. On “Holiday” the girls sing “You give it to me like no other guy/We got that heat, yeah, like the summer”; six albums in, the girls have got to come with lyrics that aren’t so elementary. “Sweet Melody,” the group’s current single and latest Top 10 hit, is the clear winner of the album. Featuring writing credits from Tayla Parx (“34+35”; “The Kids Are Alright”), “Sweet Melody” likens the hold a boy has over them to a hypnotic melody. The girls croon “He would lie, he would cheat, over syncopated beats/I was just his tiny dancer, he had control of my feet.” “Sweet Melody” hits the sweet spot that Little Mix searches for, and misses far too often, on Confetti — smart lyricism coupled with irresistible melodies and colorful vocal performances. You can hear the desperation, hurt, love, and triumph in each of the four girls’ voices, a welcome change from the relatively one-note vocal performances that dominate the album.
Little Mix’s greatest strength has always been their ability to deliver a genuinely stunning ballad. The lack of ballads on Confetti is to the album’s detriment. The girls barely give themselves or the audience time to slow down and process the high energy that dominates the record. The lack of proper ballads also strips the album of a chance to come full-circle thematically. “My Love Won’t Let You Down” is the only ballad on Confetti and the otherworldly harmonies can’t cover up the drab piano line and outright boring melody. The girls are trying their best to sell the song, but, composition-wise, it’s so painfully tedious that it almost forces you to skip to the next song. Confetti then begs the question: what’s worse, boring or cheesy? “My Love Won’t Let You Down” is a drag, but “Gloves Up” sounds like a rejected theme song for a dramedy about teenage boxers and “If You Want My Love” is a cheap knockoff of late 90s power pop. Confetti implies a celebration, and while the dance-pop songs offer some brief moments of reprieve from the doom and gloom of reality, there isn’t much to celebrate about a clear dip in quality from one album to the next. There’s nothing wrong with pop music for the sake of pop music (Dua Lipa just did it excellently at the top of the year), but the music has to be good and has to feel fresh. If Little Mix has anything, they have their incredible voices and warm chemistry, and that should be enough to bounce back on the next album with a new team of collaborators and a more precise vision in mind.
Key Tracks: “Sweet Melody” | “Break Up Song”