Proteges of the Spice Girls, Atomic Kitten get wild on their third album, LADIES NIGHT.
Adapter: Tracy Carmen.
Personnel: Skip Martin (vocals, trumpet); Shawn McQuiller (vocals); John Themis (guitar, percussion); Charles Allen Smith (guitar); Matrix 1000 (acoustic guitar); Tim Pierce (electric guitar); Dennis "D.T." Thomas (alto saxophone); Khalis Bayyan (tenor saxophone, keyboards); Clifford Adams (trumpet, trombone); Simon Hale (piano, keyboards); Ciaron Bell (grand piano); Ash Howes (keyboards, drums); Andy Whitmore (keyboards, programming); Martin Harrington, Keith Uddin, George Brown , Julian Gallagher, Rick Nowels (keyboards); Robert "Kool" Bell (bass guitar); Tim Horton (drums); Reece Gilmore (programming, drum programming); Leigh Guest (programming); Richard "Biff" Stannard, Ami Richardson, Sharon Murphy, Yvonne John Lewis (background vocals).
Undeniably old-fashioned compared to the spiky pop sound of Girls Aloud and the edgy urban output of Sugababes, Liverpool trio Atomic Kitten don't appear to be in any hurry to keep up with their more credible girl band rivals, judging by their third studio album, Ladies Night. There are a few attempts to grace the dancefloor with the hen party-friendly reworking of Kool & the Gang's "Ladies Night," the string-soaked ELO-sampling disco of "Be with You" (arguably their best single since "Whole Again"), and the Gallic-tinged filtered house of "Loving You," but despite the presence of Kylie producer Rob Davis and Jenny Frost's DJ boyfriend Dominic Thrupp on board, the majority of its 15 tracks stick with the Stargate-esque watered-down R&B, breezy acoustic pop, and midtempo ballads of its predecessor, Feels So Good. Taking a more active role third time round, eight songs feature at least one of the girls' names on the credits, but while the gorgeous sparse McClarnon-penned piano ballad "Someone Like Me" hints at a previously untapped songwriting prowess, the bland flamenco-tinged "Never Get Over You," the anemic funk of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," and the forgettable "Everything Goes Around," which uses the same shuffling beats as all of their big hits, suggest it's a good thing that the likes of Take That's Gary Barlow (the gospel-inspired "I Won't Be There"), Alisha's Attic's Karen Poole (the melodic dream pop of "Nothing in the World"), and Madonna cohorts Billy Steinberg and Rick Nowels (the lush Bangles-esque "Believer") were on board to lend a hand. There are times on Ladies Night when the girls appear capable of losing their "female Westlife" tag, while the increased creative input is a promising progression from their manufactured early days, but frustratingly, it plays it too safe too often to be considered as anything other than a harmless and slightly forgettable piece of fluff. ~ Jon O'Brien