This is pretty good teen dance-pop in the Madonna mold, with perhaps a touch of the style homage in which Pet Shop Boys occasionally indulge. And speaking of the Pets: If members of any alternative-dance groups of the 1980s were going to end up founding, writing, producing and playing for a pop group of the next millennium, I’d have expected it to be them. But in fact, Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark’s Andy McCluskey did the honors. He and other able producers and/or writers including Rob Davis and Andy Wright supply Atomic Kitten with commercial melodies (OMD were among the most melodic of the new wave) aplenty. And with few exceptions, dance-pop like this is almost wholly dependent upon its producers for its success, and not its performers.
Atomic Kitten is a trio of young women (Jenny Frost, Natasha Hamilton and Liz McClarnon) from the UK who have picked up the gauntlet the Spice Girls threw down. Singing carefree, happy-sounding songs, they rely at least as much upon their sexuality as talents (which isn’t to say that most pop singers don’t). They have had much success in Europe, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t• no reason apart from the fact that Kirsty MacColl is dead while these interchangeable• I’m sorry, sometimes its hard not to be bitter. I’ll start again.
They haven’t quite won as much attention over here in the US, and this project is an attempt to rectify that. A collection of music from their UK albums of 2001 and 2002, it contains more than half a dozen songs that charted very successfully abroad. A winning cover of the Bangles “Eternal Flame,” the song that warmed the hearts of 17-year-old girls everywhere in 1988, is perhaps the most impressive•I actually like it more than the original. “Love Won’t Wait” also does well by its rhythm.
If I have not said much about the Atomics’ gifts, it’s for two reasons. First of all is The Bananarama Dilemma. With all vocals credited to the group en block, I have no way of knowing the difference between them. None shames herself, but none are distinguished. And studio trickery being what it is•
Anyway, I’m at least 12 years too old for this record. But judging Atomic Kitten not as artists but as an image decorating a collection of contemporary dance grooves, I can say that they are inoffensive, amiable radio fodder – who almost certainly won’t be around in five years. But for now, why not enjoy?
Atomic Kitten: http://www.atomickitten.co.uk/