With a pair of hit singles (Love Me and Black Heart) having done the rounds on the charts last year, the UK’s most promising new girl group, Stooshe, appear to be hitting all the right notes as they have finally released their debut album, London With The Lights On, an album several times delayed due to the groups feeling that the collection was not ready for release.
Following praised support slots last year for A-list acts including Nicki Minaj and J-Lo, Stooshe took a sidestep from the spotlight following the release of the albums 3rd single, a rendition of the famous TLC track, Waterfalls, which has since been omitted from the final version of their debut due to differences of musical opinion between the group and their label.
Thankfully the girls have got the balling rolling to its prior momentum once again and unveiled the long awaited debut with several omissions and additions from its previously complete yet unreleased form.
Love Me was the first single released from the trio’s debut. It perfectly combines the smooth R&B vocals of members Alexandra Buggs, Courtney Rumbold and Karis Anderson with the breezy hook heavy instrumentation that has quickly become the groups signature sound and a sound they have translated well into other pennings heard throughout the rest of the record the group have presented to us here. The Top 5 hit also united the group with US rapper Travie McCoy who has previously worked with R&B superstar Bruno Mars, Taio Cruz, P!nk, Cheryl Cole and Kelly Rowland. The song is as classy as it is cheeky – plenty of innuendo to be heard here, particularly with the numbers most saucy improv of “hey diddle diddle, my cat needs a fiddle!”, thrown into the end of the track and leaving very little to the imagination.
Black Heart, the group’s sophomore single release, finds its place as a prominent fixture on London With The Lights On. Colourful and sweet, the song contains a number of hair raising moments as the girls deliver some syrupy harmonies over top of a well-crafted, soulful instrumentation which contains a 60’s soul feel, perhaps a nod to the groups 60’s Motown influences, and puts the group’s vocal skills into the limelight. Co-written with All Saints singer Shaznay Lewis, the track offers further evidence that this group is no one hit wonder as they deliver a slow jam rich in sweet melodies and brimming in soulful vocal arrangements as they confess to “falling for a monster”.
My Man Music unleashes a Lily Allen-esque track with reggae beats flowing within a charismatic, bubblegum pop coated hit. The track sits well within the track listing with its subtle island theme.
Round 2, originally not included on the unreleased version of the album, leaves a lot to be desired and leaves us with a slightly bitter taste in our mouths after being offered tracks of such a high standard so far. The dull instrumentation and cheesy lyrics which fight to find a fitting moment within the tracks lackluster rhythm, make us wonder why it was every considered for the release.
Further into the record Perfectly Wrong comes equipped with an orchestral backbone as an tempo rhythm plays havoc in the chorus with its upbeat catchiness while the verses take on a more balladic approach.
Jazz lacings twist through See Me Like This which blends the bands soulful and R&B sound with a superbly structured string section and a subtle but very effective horn section playing out in the background, sensitive to stealing the spotlight from the songs leading ladies.
Nearing the end of the record another highlight comes with the bustling Turning Me On. Upbeat, fun and drenched in 1960’s soul it is a standout hit on the album and plays with a tight production and a beautiful collision of instruments that fill the track to the brim with a rich quality and offers a vocally versatile late addition to the track listing.
Another clonk in the London With The Lights On machine is Slip, the latest single offering from the three-piece which opens the record and evokes a strong Motown feel while the vocals unleashed throughout the track, complete with a series of charming background ‘wops’, drives through the tracks well delivered verses into the numbers infectious chorus, ripe with catchy vocal licks that deserve a good attitude-filled sing-along. It’s as radio-friendly as you can get and showcases a group that has clearly tapped into a niche here.
So far it seems that Stooshe have what it takes to survive the brutal terrain of the music industry having kept their balance over a difficult adjustment period filled with musical differences and an album overhaul. They have tapped into a unique sound that blends soul, hip hop, pop and some mild jazz influences. All of the songs contained on the record display strong vocal contributions and feisty personalities from a trio who clearly know how to deliver a robust debut.
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