It's tough, as a reviewer, to listen to scores upon scores of new releases that desperately want to make an impression. So many artists are trying to find their niche. Everyone wants to be the new Lady Gaga, or the new La Roux, or the next dance pop phenomenon to top the charts. Everyone has got a schtick, and honestly- it can be exhausting. When I took a preview listen of Bad Girls Club by Kimberly Cole, I thought I'd have a good laugh and then get back to the people who seemed to take their careers seriously. That is, until I got serious. Nothing really sets Kimberly apart. Except from her love of roller skates, the singer's voice is neither distinctive nor fantastic, and her music doesn't set the bar or even really reach it. Yet I cannot stop listening to this album. The simplistic nature and interesting lyrics make for a shift from the overproduced stuff that stomps around my radio, and makes me think back to 2001-02 era pop when electronica was more of an accessory and not the whole outfit. That quote, "Don't judge a book by its cover" - well, it ain't around for no reason.
A Slap In The Face
The album kicks off with the lead single "Smack You." This track is literally written about a girl who pissed Cole off, and that's just good fun. Aligning more with the current mainstream, "Smack You" is a stompy track but it doesn't try to be serious. It is obviously intended to be taken as a fun track, and you are meant to have fun listening to it. And for the most part, things get better from there.
What Makes It Fun
Standouts from the album are all over the place. To begin with, "Psycho" is a plucky pop track that reminds of Britney's self-titled album. In the track, Cole feels sorry for a guy who tries to be the perfect gentlemen while that is clearly not what she wants. "...if it doesn't leave me broken I'm not into it; You can't change me I've already been bit" she sings about sex with her man. The insistent and bouncy beat on "Psycho" keeps the track moving, and by the time it's done it almost feels like you'll need a cigarette. Aiming to be cute and coy, another standout is "Pocket Rocket." The track is definitely cutesy with a fun distinctive production. An easy way to go with this would be to overwhelm with dance beats but the track again rides on the vibe of that Britney album. And when Cole reveals what her "Pocket Rocket" is, it earns a grin.
"Walk of Shame," my third standout choice from the album, is a fast-paced electroballad dedicated to the embarrassing walk from a one-night-stand's place the following morning. On a less silly note, "A Thousand Times" is a heartbreaking track in which Cole sends off the man she loves by lying to him. Her need to rectify the situation spurs the drama within the track. Finally, rounding up my standouts, is "Threeway." This one is pretty easy to figure out, and while listening I found myself criticizing Cole for such a transparent track. While the musical method she uses to introduce her two men for the evening is cute, I really questioned how blatant one had to be in a track like this. Until the twist at the end, it seems Cole's fate was to be the meat in a three-piece sandwich. And suddenly the track gets a whole lot more interesting, as Cole pokes fun at herself and the whole process.
I Think This Line Is Mostly Filler
The rest of the album is fun and frisky but overall lacks the "oomph" that made the standouts what they are. "You Got Balls" and "Bad Word" are punchy and on the offensive. "Get Stupid" switches from a swing beat to a club beat for the chorus. "Cherry Pop" has a good beat. But again, none of these have that vibe that gave the tracks I felt stood out that extra push.
Something about Bad Girls Club is just mindless and fun. It isn't an album people will rush to buy, and it isn't chock full of songs that will stand the test of time. But in a world where we try to shove as much meaning into a dance pop song as we can (a-HEM Lady Gaga), sometimes mindless and fun is just right. The standout tracks define the album, and should be listened to in their entirety. Or else you'll be falling into the trap I almost did.
Released December 2010 on Crystal Ship Records
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy