Little Mix, ‘Salute’ – Album Review
For those about to pop, we ‘Salute’ you! Little Mix‘s second album ‘Salute’ is one glorious, female vocal ensemble album, fueled by mesmerizing harmonies, jaw-dropping runs, and plenty of uptempo, cheerleader-y anthems. We can’t get enough of this stuff.
‘Salute’ is a modern update of the all-female vocal ensemble style that pays lots of homage to Destiny’s Child and En Vogue.
However, these English roses do play with “hip-pop” here and there on an album that is largely a vehicle for their vocal prowess. It’s also full of songs for the ladies, about the ladies and by the ladies.
The female millennials have Taylor Swift as the voice of their generation on the solo side. Now they also have Little Mix as the group which speaks directly to and for ‘em.
‘Salute’ is an utterly infectious, impressive and near-flawless pop record. It also asks –make that demands — to be played loud.
A harmonized ‘Girl Power!,’ banger-style anthem opens the album in the form of the title track, which reminds us of a sassier Spice Girls meets TLC, with a dose of Destiny’s Child. Get your killer heels on ladies. This one represents all women.
Remember ’90s R&B girl group En Vogue? Little Mix bring that patented style back with the cheerleader’y ‘Move.’ If this beat-driven thumper doesn’t get your booty moving, you should check for a pulse or a heartbeat because you might be dead. But it’s not just about dancing. These broads can ‘mix’ it up and sing. They do not rely on studio trickery.
3. ‘Little Me’
There it is — the first power ballad of several. Jesy, Perrie, Jade and Leigh-Anne infuse the song with warmth and never-ending vocal depth. It’s another song with a sisterly lyrical vibe.
4. ‘Nothing Feels Like You’
This handclap-heavy, urban track is suitable for use in a ‘Step Up’ movie. It’s what you want to dance to on a blacktop in Los Angeles. Did we mention that Little Mix harmonize in a delightfully ’90s way?
The ladies tone things down with ‘Towers,’ which is slower and sadder than ‘Little Me.’ Their voices are crystalline and angelic as they recount a relationship that has come crashing down and left their hearts feeling nothing. Ouchies!
More late ’90s/early ’00s hip-pop a la Destiny’s Child on ‘Competition.’ This sounds like Little Mix’s version of ‘Survivor.’ We sorta love how they are embracing the ’90s and how they build escalating harmonies that explode in the choruses of this song about being confident and unstoppable. #GirlPower.
7. ‘These Four Walls’
Here’s another ballad that is sprinkled in the middle of all that upbeat harmonizing. ‘These Four Walls’ is devastatingly, achingly and beautifully painful. It’s a vulnerable song that allows each Mixer to let her voice stir and arouse emotion over a simple piano melody. It almost feels a cappella at some points. This is the animated movie soundtrack song of ‘Salute.’
8. ‘About the Boy’
Just call them En Mix with ‘About the Boy,’ since it reminds us of En Vogue’s ‘My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).’ But it’s not a throwback or a rip-off — come on now! It’s modern girl group and R&B-flecked pop. Stick around for the monster, Mariah Carey-like note in the bridge of this song. Mirrors will shatter if you play it at top volume.
Little Mix pay homage to En Vogue and Destiny’s Child – again – with ‘Boy,’ as well. It is a soulful, finger snapper song about moving on from dat boy. But make no mistake: Little Mix are not a carbon copy nor are they co-opting black female vocal groups. They infuse the concept of the rhythmic-leaning vocal ensemble with their own edge and a dose of their unique, Mixed and blue-eyed soul.
10. ‘Good Enough’
Guess what? It’s another piano ballad with vocal intensity that is slightly less memorable than the others on the album. But it’s still pretty awesome, since you can hear shakiness in the vocals due to the authenticity of the emotion.
11. ‘Mr. Loverboy’
Oh, adorbs! ‘Mr. Loverboy’ is a jukebox-y, ’90s hip-hop influenced jam. The ladies of Little Mix won’t let a boy pull one over on ‘em. Not. Even. Close.
12. ‘A Different Beat’
The standard version ends as it begins — with a cheerleader’y anthem. With marching band beats and vocal calls to action, grab dem pom poms and shake that bootay, ladies.
13. ‘See Me Now’
‘See Me Now’ is a darker, house-lite song with a bit of a tribal feel in the verses but the choruses are pulsate with those epic Little Mix harmonies. We cannot get enough.
14. ‘They Just Don’t Know You’
Love conquers all in ‘They Just Don’t Know,’ where mom, dad and sister criticize the narrator’s choice of a lover. It’s a moody dance song with a bit of bite.
15. ‘Stand Down’
Little Mix let ‘er rip with ‘Stand Down,’ a tough, confident song with more tribal rhythms, while taking copious notes from a page in the Destiny’s Child playbook.
16. ‘Little Me Unplugged’
Throughout the whole of ‘Salute,’ the voices of Perrie, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Jade are the battery charging the album. So to go the unplugged route for a reprise of ‘Little Me’ is a smart move for the final song of the deluxe version.