The dust has hardly settled on ’3 Words’, but after a messy divorce and a life-threatening fling with maleria it’s no surprise that Cheryl Cole is keen to get back to the hitmaking. And the good news is that ‘Messy Little Raindrops’ is far, far superior to its predecessor.
Whereas last year’s effort was so concerned with not sounding like Girls Aloud that it forgot to be exciting, this sophomore set is likeable from the opening burst of ‘ALLOUETTE-UETTE-UETTE’ right through to the Vanessa Carlton-sampling finale. In fact the first four tracks alone are all five-star corkers. Lead single ‘Promise This’ is an initially bizarre but eventually amazing opener, ‘Yeah Yeah’ is a retro rave-up with added Travie McCoy, ‘Live Today’ is a will.i.am production that’s at once both euphoric and haunting, and ‘The Flood’ is a winter enormoballad with a hands-in-the-air double chorus. And unlike ’3 Words’, there are no tracks at all that can be comfortably filed under “crap”. Granted, a couple are more forgettable than others (Dizzee Rascal duet ‘Everyone’ is a noteworthy disappointment) but generally there’s a seriously impressive standard of urban flavoured pop on offer.
Lyrically, many lines are borderline hilarious (“You were the tree and I was the apple that fell to the ground and turned brown”) and the beach/water/rain metaphor on ‘The Flood’ is milked to within an inch of its life, but Cheryl’s sincerity really helps the album gain an extra pinch of believability; and even though autotune is applied generously throughout, it’s the impression that She Really Means It that gives it an extra kick. She’s happy (‘Hummingbird’), she’s pissed off (‘Happy Tears’), she’s “hollerin’, hollerin”” (‘Better To Lie’), and with her status as unofficial Queen of England still in tact, she’s got another multi-platinum album on her hands as well.