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All Saints - Testament (Album Review)

Wednesday, 01 August 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

In the late ‘90s, All Saints were the a moodier, more credible Spice Girls. Like East 17 to Take That, they catered for hungry dreamers who sought different, more edgy universes…as long as they were contained in the pages of Smash Hits.

After one abortive comeback in 2006, the quartet returned with ‘Red Flag’ in 2016. The album was a success, charting at #3 in the UK, and its follow up, ‘Testament’, provides more of the same: decent pop music with updated turn-of-the-century affectations.

Stand-out tracks include the the excellent Testament in Motion, which marries minimal digital tonalities with trip-hop rhythms and familiar sassy-sentimental vocals.

Like many of the songs here, it demonstrates Shaznay Lewis’s compositional chops - combined with William Orbit - to deliver fluid assemblages of songs that clunk and whirr and occasionally amaze.

After All also lands handsomely, dialling up Orbit again and using many of the same blippy aquatic voices employed on their global hit Pure Shores. It’s a song that manages to maintain a degree of integrity while directly paying homage to its forerunner, and why not? The near-perfect craft and balance found in Pure Shores is worthy of further exploration. Entire musical catalogues have been constructed on less.

Elsewhere, moments of magic emerge from otherwise anonymous tracks. There is a spine-tinglingly furious 16-beat refrain on Fumes and an incredibly elegant opening to the single Love Lasts Forever - even if the lyrics themselves are vapid drivel. Actually, the intro demonstrates the relative homogeneity of the members’ voices. And not just in the case of the Appleton sisters, Nicole and Natalie, but also Melanie Blatt and Lewis.

Over the years, All Saints have developed a mid-Atlantic drawl that sharpens ‘r’s and heightens ‘a’s. Dozens of musicians do it, of course, but different accents can really elevate a vocal blend - think Fleetwood Mac or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Nonetheless, ‘Testament’ remains a solid and serviceable pop album. It could have been a lot worse.

All Saints Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed September 26 2018 - BRIGHTON Komedia (Big Room)
Thu November 29 2018 - CAMBRIDGE Cambridge Corn Exchange
Fri November 30 2018 - OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford
Sat December 01 2018 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Mon December 03 2018 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Tue December 04 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Thu December 06 2018 - LONDON Eventim Apollo
Fri December 07 2018 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Sat December 08 2018 - MANCHESTER Academy
Mon December 10 2018 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Tue December 11 2018 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Wed December 12 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle

Click here to compare & buy All Saints Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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