sun 16/05/2021

CD: All Saints - Red Flag | reviews, news & interviews

CD: All Saints - Red Flag

CD: All Saints - Red Flag

The '90s girl band have managed to maintain their distinctive sound even after all these years

All Saints are back with their fists upAll Saints - Red Flag

Never ever have I felt so… nostalgic for the late 90s. While memories of platform jelly shoes, silver eyeshadow and purple all-in-ones mostly have me cringing, there’s no denying that the ultimate coolest thing about that generation was "Pure Shores". And now, despite the tabloid mayhem of the band’s first split in the early Noughties, All Saints are back, with a vengeance.

Never ever have I felt so… nostalgic for the late 90s. While memories of platform jelly shoes, silver eyeshadow and purple all-in-ones mostly have me cringing, there’s no denying that the ultimate coolest thing about that generation was "Pure Shores". And now, despite the tabloid mayhem of the band’s first split in the early Noughties, All Saints are back, with a vengeance.

I mean that literally – there’s a lot of fighting talk in Red Flag. There’s a nod to the high-profile, relationship-fuelled tabloid fodder that became the band’s downfall, but (dare I say it) there’s a smidgen of girl power, with the original gals (songwriter Shaznay Lewis flanked by Melanie Blatt and twin sisters Nicole and Natalie Appleton) finding each other again, and finding themselves in their jam.

"One Strike" is a powerful, explosive opening, showing that the band are back – with their fists up. It’s classic All Saints, with a breezy dancy beat and outward-facing vocals as they sing “I’m ready for the storm to come”. "One Woman Man" has a similar battle cry with the defiant “Didn’t she hear me say I ain’t going nowhere/Are you ready for me yet?” The grand strings, piano and choral vocals set up the major drama of "This Is War", which asks “If I gotta fight, for the right, to be loved and to love… If we can't be free, you and me, to be loved and to love, then what is this for?” It’s a warm, spreading song that will undoubtedly inspire a power grab or two.

"Summer Rain" is a great track with a plucky guitar and a capella sound, good rhythmic undertow and nice harmonies. Things slow down with the ballad-y and reflective "Who Hurt Who". "Fear" is similarly delicate and contemplative, but "Ratchet Behaviour" steers things back to a place of punch-swinging big beats. It’s a little bit reggae and grimey and drums-y with low swinging booty (“gonna bring you down, down, down, down”) and full on teeth-sucking pouts: “She’s a stone cold sinner, sinner, yeah you know that she’s a murder, this girl yeah”. They’ve managed to keep it current with this one as well as staying true to their old sound, which is no mean feat.

"Red Flag" and "Tribal" are both rolling, vibrant tracks with clapping, rhythmical drums, African-sounding vocals and a lot of “na na na naaa”, plus more confrontation with the lyrics “I was like a bull to a red rag, a moth to a burning flame... You should’ve come with a warning.”

While there are no cargo pants or crop tops in sight, the songwriting is good and the band have kept the distinctive sound of solo voices coming together in soft harmonies, but with an edgy, fighting spirit. It looks like All Saints are back – if not for good, then for their forthcoming tour at least.

Solo voices come together in soft harmonies, but with an edgy, fighting spirit

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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