'A sophisticated, defiant return to form'
Valerie Siebert

13:21 7th April 2016

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While their signature outfit of crop-tops and combat trousers hasn’t fared well on the fashion front over the last 20 years, the music of All Saints has held up surprisingly well.

Their particular brand of mature R&B-infused girl power pop is, for many, the enduring sound of an era that trumps even the more-successful Spice Girls. Yet their legacy is slightly damaged by a for-the-cash reunion back in 2006 that produced the disappointing Studio 1 album, which has left many wary of the girl group’s latest reunion and foray back into the studio.

But the worries are for naught as Red Flag is undoubtedly the follow up that the band’s 2000 second album Saints & Sinners truly deserved, following in much the same vein in influence and eclectic style – sidelining the R&B that typified their 1997 eponymous debut in favour of more lush and breezy ballads à la 'Pure Shores' such as ‘Who Hurt Who’ and ‘Fear’ and swirling electro pop anthems like ‘Puppet on a String’ and ‘Racthet Behaviour’.

While Shaznay Lewis has given up her edgy, sneering vocal style of the 90s, Melanie Blatt’s breathy tones sound virtually untouched by the decades. Shaznay takes the lead on the songwriting, having weathered the intervening years as a songwriter of rising calibre, racking up credits with the likes of Little Mix and Stooshe.

The album opens on a high with the single ‘One Strike’, which makes absolutely no attempt at beating around the bush when it comes to its content: an artful bash of Liam Gallagher told from the perspective of Nicole Appleton in the moment she was told over the phone by her Oasis frontman husband that he had fathered a child with another woman.

But tabloid fodder aside, the song is such an incredible return to form it almost erases the disappointment of the 2006 reunion. The anthem ‘One Woman Man’ is similarly defiant in nature while ‘Summer Rain’ introduces a bit of sampling and thick harmonies over a minimal backing of a drum machine and plucked guitar. ‘This is a War’ is another highlight with soaring vocals that ooze power and determination.

Fans of the group’s first album may be disappointed by the lack of upbeat, fun, party tracks, but Red Flag is a record appropriate to the ladies’ age and experience: sophisticated, smooth and serious.

All Saints' full upcoming list of UK tour dates are below, tickets and information are available here

Thu October 06 2016 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Fri October 07 2016 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Sat October 08 2016 - MANCHESTER Academy
Mon October 10 2016 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Tue October 11 2016 - LIVERPOOL O2 Academy Liverpool
Thu October 13 2016 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Fri October 14 2016 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Sat October 15 2016 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Mon October 17 2016 - SOUTHEND Cliffs Pavilion
Tue October 18 2016 - NORWICH UEA

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