Three years, four singles, and many rumoured release dates later, English pop warbler Sophie Ellis-Bextor has finally disclosed her much awaited fourth studio album Make A Scene. Even by just its title, a little buzz fills the air with the promise of a glorious pop record.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor is no stranger to the word 'quality', and it certainly shows on the LP. Although the timing of Madamoiselle EB's releases are sloppy at best, the appetizers that have come in the form of Bittersweet and Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer) inter alia kept us from giving up on Make A Scene.
With amazing producers such as the Freemasons, Richard X, Calvin Harris, and Greg Kurstin present in the LP and given the span of three years in recording, Make A Scene set high expectations upon itself. The main question remains: was it worth the wait?
The LP kicks off with a "bang bang" in Revolution, and the highly energized track is quite a head turner, even giving a nod to one of Sophie's previous hits, Murder on the Dancefloor. Lead single Bittersweet is a pop treat reminiscent of Girls Aloud's Untouchable-- both being elegant songs bursting at the seams with brilliance. The superb intro coupled with the push-pull chorus in Off and On possess such magnetism that you won't be able to stop yourself from shimmying ever-so-slightly while listening.
Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer) is an excellent collaboration with the Freemasons, and the bridge instrumental is incredibly climactic and infectious. Not Giving Up On Love, although too 'trance-y' for my tastes, holds its own ground in the LP. Can't Fight This Feeling with French dj Junior Caldera is lackluster, average, and fails to keep up with previous tracks. Starlight is another album standout. It feels slightly ethereal, lush but light at the same time, creating an alluring mystique to it.
Under Your Touch lacks the appeal of Off and On and the momentum of Revolution, falling in the 'decent but not entirely great' category. The title track, Make A Scene, is a total disappointment. It's messy and the parts of the song don't fit together properly. The verses actually remind me of Kelis' Flesh Tone, but the odd instrumentals and the awkward flow drags the song down.
One of the more interesting tracks in Make A Scene is Magic, produced by Richard X, who is also responsible for Starlight. True to its title, Magic possesses an enchanting quality that hoists up the song from great to outstanding. The 80's synth bursts in Dial My Number keep the energy going, but overall it's just a teensy notch above average at best. The same goes for Homewrecker, the blunt and direct lyrics further driving the song into the ground.
No matter how downtempo the ballad Synchronised may be, it doesn't stall the flow of the LP. It's one of those rare tracks that can generate both joy and melancholy simultaneously. Cut Straight to the Heart is a less pleasing ballad, and while flashes of brilliance sporadically turn up, it remains underwhelming.
Make A Scene is a compact collection that presents the Sophie Ellis-Bextor we're all familiar with. It may not cross new territories, but that doesn't mean that the LP is devoid of bold tracks (Magic, Bittersweet, Revolution). Even with a song about mistresses and whatnot, the LP stays tasteful. Another feat that I'd like to commend is the album consistency and how one dance track after another doesn't wear it out.