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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Sugababes were one of the most consistently successful British pop acts of the 2000s, with an unparalleled string of innovative Top Ten singles and solid if not faultless full-lengths. Their fourth, the awkwardly named Taller in More Ways, was no exception -- indeed it was their first album to hit number one, and among their strongest. As usual, the singles tend to shine the brightest, but there are only a handful of truly lesser tracks scattered among the state-of-the-art dancefloor stompers and towering ballads. The simple yet effective electro-pop club ditty "Push the Button" was the first single (and it topped the charts as handily as its predecessors had), but even better in that category is the monstrously funky "Red Dress," a Xenomania track reminiscent of their frisky Girls Aloud productions, that makes excellent use of a rejiggered horn section sampled from a '60s Northern soul cut ("Landslide" by Tony Clarke). In the latter column, both "Follow Me Home" and "Ugly" are aptly pitched inspirational mini-epics dealing, respectively, with romantic and body-image issues (even if "we only get judged by what we do" sounds like rather wishful thinking, the 'Babes make you believe it). And it gets deeper than that, in several ways: the breezy, ska-punk-tinged "Joy Division" (which has nothing to do with that band, musically or lyrically); the sugary synth pop of "Obsession" (a cover of '80s new wavers Animotion); the intoxicating, hard-hitting "It Ain't Easy," which pits a menacingly swung, twangy guitar riff -- lifted so blatantly from Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," it's a wonder Martin Gore doesn't get a writing credit -- against a martial strut and agitated double-time group vocals. "Gotta Be You" pillages less successfully: despite a passable foundation of synth-fuzz R&B with trendy tabla-esque skittering, it treads so melodically close to Aaliyah's majestic "Try Again" that it can't help but pale by comparison. Meanwhile, the final three cuts fail to leave much of an impression -- there's nothing like "Maya," the haunting closer on Three. Even so, the overall quality of the material, the production, and of course Sugababes' trademark vocal work -- subtly satisfying without being showy -- are enough to make this another winner from one of the winningest (and most winsome) pop groups going. [In 2006, following the departure of Mutya Buena from the group, Taller in More Ways was reissued with one new track and re-recorded versions of "Gotta Be You," "Follow Me Home," and "Red Dress" featuring new member Amelle Berrabah.] © K. Ross Hoffman /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Sugababes straightforwardly titled third release may have lacked a single quite as striking as "Freak Like Me," the tremendous electro-clash/mash-up cash-in smash from their breakthrough sophomore set, Angels with Dirty Faces, but otherwise it improves on that album in many respects. Following the same essential template -- tuneful, R&B-inflected dance-pop with fresh-sounding but accessible productions, along with a healthy smattering of big droopy ballads -- with an expanded stylistic range, Three boasts a sonic approach both lusher and more intricately detailed, and, most significantly, stronger songwriting almost across the board, much of it contributed at least in part by the Babes themselves. And if it was less revelatory than "Freak," this album's chart-topping lead single/opener "Hole in the Head" was no less enjoyable -- a slice of bouncy, slightly off-kilter up-tempo pop reminiscent of Angels' second number one single, "Round Round." Both were produced and co-written by Xenomania, fresh from their career-making work on Girls Aloud's debut album -- and so were several of Three's other highlights, including the playfully funky "Twisted," and the ruminative, woozily floaty "Situation's Heavy." Elsewhere, Pete Craigie and Guy Sigsworth conjure up blankets of electronic gloss to swathe the barnstorming robo-pop of "Whatever Makes You Happy," the Eastern-tinged quasi-Diwali of "Million Different Ways," and the beautiful, throbbing slow-burner "Maya," a metaphysical missive to a lost friend that reflects: "If this universe is really shrinking/we'll be together in time." Then there are the ballads, arguably Sugababes' strongest suit: Three has no less than four of them (five if you include the less formally classicist "Maya") evenly spaced throughout the album, of which the obvious standout is the pitch-perfect "Caught in a Moment," a stirring, string-laden monolith of melody. It may seem incongruous for such unabashed sentimentality and frankly conventional arrangements to coexist with electronic dance-pop so thoroughly modern in sound and sensibility -- and indeed it's easy to imagine listeners attracted by one aspect of Sugababes' pop-craft being turned off by the other. But ultimately they are two sides of a coin -- timeless if sudsy ballads and flashy novelty dance tunes -- both very much in keeping with the great interpretive pop tradition, of which Sugababes are among our most consummate and sophisticated modern exponents. © K. Ross Hoffman /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Sugababes were one of the most consistently successful British pop acts of the 2000s, with an unparalleled string of innovative Top Ten singles and solid if not faultless full-lengths. Their fourth, the awkwardly named Taller in More Ways, was no exception -- indeed it was their first album to hit number one, and among their strongest. As usual, the singles tend to shine the brightest, but there are only a handful of truly lesser tracks scattered among the state-of-the-art dancefloor stompers and towering ballads. The simple yet effective electro-pop club ditty "Push the Button" was the first single (and it topped the charts as handily as its predecessors had), but even better in that category is the monstrously funky "Red Dress," a Xenomania track reminiscent of their frisky Girls Aloud productions, that makes excellent use of a rejiggered horn section sampled from a '60s Northern soul cut ("Landslide" by Tony Clarke). In the latter column, both "Follow Me Home" and "Ugly" are aptly pitched inspirational mini-epics dealing, respectively, with romantic and body-image issues (even if "we only get judged by what we do" sounds like rather wishful thinking, the 'Babes make you believe it). And it gets deeper than that, in several ways: the breezy, ska-punk-tinged "Joy Division" (which has nothing to do with that band, musically or lyrically); the sugary synth pop of "Obsession" (a cover of '80s new wavers Animotion); the intoxicating, hard-hitting "It Ain't Easy," which pits a menacingly swung, twangy guitar riff -- lifted so blatantly from Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," it's a wonder Martin Gore doesn't get a writing credit -- against a martial strut and agitated double-time group vocals. "Gotta Be You" pillages less successfully: despite a passable foundation of synth-fuzz R&B with trendy tabla-esque skittering, it treads so melodically close to Aaliyah's majestic "Try Again" that it can't help but pale by comparison. Meanwhile, the final three cuts fail to leave much of an impression -- there's nothing like "Maya," the haunting closer on Three. Even so, the overall quality of the material, the production, and of course Sugababes' trademark vocal work -- subtly satisfying without being showy -- are enough to make this another winner from one of the winningest (and most winsome) pop groups going. [In 2006, following the departure of Mutya Buena from the group, Taller in More Ways was reissued with one new track and re-recorded versions of "Gotta Be You," "Follow Me Home," and "Red Dress" featuring new member Amelle Berrabah.] © K. Ross Hoffman /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2011 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Sugababes were one of the most consistently successful British pop acts of the 2000s, with an unparalleled string of innovative Top Ten singles and solid if not faultless full-lengths. Their fourth, the awkwardly named Taller in More Ways, was no exception -- indeed it was their first album to hit number one, and among their strongest. As usual, the singles tend to shine the brightest, but there are only a handful of truly lesser tracks scattered among the state-of-the-art dancefloor stompers and towering ballads. The simple yet effective electro-pop club ditty "Push the Button" was the first single (and it topped the charts as handily as its predecessors had), but even better in that category is the monstrously funky "Red Dress," a Xenomania track reminiscent of their frisky Girls Aloud productions, that makes excellent use of a rejiggered horn section sampled from a '60s Northern soul cut ("Landslide" by Tony Clarke). In the latter column, both "Follow Me Home" and "Ugly" are aptly pitched inspirational mini-epics dealing, respectively, with romantic and body-image issues (even if "we only get judged by what we do" sounds like rather wishful thinking, the 'Babes make you believe it). And it gets deeper than that, in several ways: the breezy, ska-punk-tinged "Joy Division" (which has nothing to do with that band, musically or lyrically); the sugary synth pop of "Obsession" (a cover of '80s new wavers Animotion); the intoxicating, hard-hitting "It Ain't Easy," which pits a menacingly swung, twangy guitar riff -- lifted so blatantly from Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," it's a wonder Martin Gore doesn't get a writing credit -- against a martial strut and agitated double-time group vocals. "Gotta Be You" pillages less successfully: despite a passable foundation of synth-fuzz R&B with trendy tabla-esque skittering, it treads so melodically close to Aaliyah's majestic "Try Again" that it can't help but pale by comparison. Meanwhile, the final three cuts fail to leave much of an impression -- there's nothing like "Maya," the haunting closer on Three. Even so, the overall quality of the material, the production, and of course Sugababes' trademark vocal work -- subtly satisfying without being showy -- are enough to make this another winner from one of the winningest (and most winsome) pop groups going. [In 2006, following the departure of Mutya Buena from the group, Taller in More Ways was reissued with one new track and re-recorded versions of "Gotta Be You," "Follow Me Home," and "Red Dress" featuring new member Amelle Berrabah.] © K. Ross Hoffman /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2007 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.