Album number two, and I still don’t really know who Fifth Harmony are. There’s the one with the eyebrows. The one with the squeaky voice. And the one with two right feet?
Fittingly, then, for their lack of personality, ‘7/27’ is little more than a checklist of generic pop styles. Lead single and album highlight Work from Home sets the tone with its pop-R&B sound and featured rap from Ty Dolla $ign. Elsewhere there’s the stomping sax-tinged opener That’s My Girl; synth-banger The Life; tropical house banger Write On Me; obligatory Rihanna cast-off (probably) All In My Head (Flex); R&B throwback Gonna Get Better; happy-sad non-chorus banger Scared of Happy; the funky Prince-esque Not That Kind Of Girl…etc.
The checklist continues with the songwriters and producers, offering a distinct lack of surprises: Stargate, Benny Blanco, Kygo (there’s the tropical house influence) amongst others, plus a writing credit from Tinashe. These songs are meant to be a popular basis for the girls to reveal some personality. But what personality? Yes they can sing, they can dance, they can harmonise. But not once do they rise above ‘basic’.
The thing is, ‘7/27’ remains an enjoyable album. That may be down to the team behind the band rather than the girls themselves, but the album delivers a consistent collection of bangers that neatly sums up contemporary pop tastes. Sure, it may not be outstanding, but there’s equally not a bad song here. The “work work work” hook from Work From Home is amongst the most infectious pop tracks of the year. Listening to The Life makes me want to sip on a Mai Thai and get sweaty on the dancefloor – and I don’t even like Mai Thais. Gonna Get Better is a slick modernising of a 90s R&B sound. And Scared of Happy is amongst the girls’ best work, amalgamating the pop-dance-R&B-tropical house sound of the album as a whole, however convoluted that might sound.
Then again, it could be anyone singing these songs. Perhaps the girls will finally find some personality by the time album three comes along – if they make it that far.
* Work From Home
* Gonna Get Better
* Scared of Happy
Listen: ‘7/27’ is out now.