Taller in More Ways is the fourth Sugababes album, produced by luminaries such as Xenomania (who made songs for Girls Aloud and the curiously overlooked Frank), Guy Sigsworth (Björk collaborator and half of Frou Frou, along with Imogen Heap), Dallas Austin and Jony Rockstar.
The lesser tracks include the curiously popular Push the Button, a flirtatious song with an annoyingly pedestrian backing; the painfully loud and monotonous Gotta Be You; and the plain annoying It Ain't Easy. All nine other tracks range from pretty good to absolutely stunning.
Follow Me Home and Joy Division are beautiful, lush, tender pop songs. The stirring strings and deep bassline of the former would give Portishead a run for their money, while the latter seems to be a modern twist on reggae sensibilities.
Red Dress is an amazingly catchy dance number with inspirational counter-melody and a bassline that surpasses even the one in Groove Armada's Madder. The wordless vocal sung as the music gears up in the two bars leading up to the second chorus provide a simple yet effective anticipation vibe. Aspiring musicians would do themselves a huge favour if they focused more on learning to craft hooks like these.
Ugly is an uplifting piece of advice that rises far above the usual pop fare. Not only is the music catchy, but more to the point the lyric's empowering message is doubtlessly a good influence on the teenaged girls these songs are aimed at.
Bruised is a catchy hate song; Obsession is a cover made slightly better than Animotion's original purely for having more modern production sensibilities and better technology; Ace Reject and Better contrast light and fun music with satisfyingly heavy lyrics; and Two Hearts is an appropriately dramatic ending.
The hit to miss ratio in Taller in More Ways is better than in many albums with so-called artistic integrity, and there's an impressive amount of diversity to boot. While most of the lyrics predictably deal with the emotional turmoil of falling in and out of love, Ugly raises the album above standard pop fare. Recommended to pop fans.