The U.K. is home to some of the best girl groups in history – the Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, Sugababes, to name a few – and in 2008, The Saturdays emerged with their debut Chasing Lights to take a shot at pop greatness. Since their formation, they’ve released four albums each with accompanying headlining tours. (They even opened for Girls Aloud on the Tangled Up Tour of 2008). Chasing Lights is a rather paint-by-numbers debut, but its wise single choices propelled the group to stardom, making the album well worth a listen.
Chasing Lights opens strong with “If This Is Love” and “Up”, the album’s first and second singles respectively. Both of these songs capture the pop landscape of 2008 – and, while reasonably being a bit dated eight years later, both tracks feature strong vocals and production with catchy choruses that will stay stuck in your head for eight years to come.
“Keep Her” is a pulsing delight about putting a sketchy guy in his place. Of the album tracks that weren’t released as singles, this is one of the best. Other strong album tracks include “Lies” and “Fall” – both about bad relationships. One thing The Saturdays know how to nail is a song about relationships gone sour. “Fall, outta my hands, outta my heart and when you hit the ground — You’ll be sorry that I’m not around.” The lyrics of the piano-driven ballad “Fall” are particularly effective.
A slow grower is the single “Issues”, a song about deciding whether to stay in or leave a broken relationship. “Issues” is a stark contrast to the fun and upbeat tracks “If This Is Love” and “Up”, and it enjoyed commercial success for a good reason – it’s incredibly catchy and wistful.
While “Issues” shines, there are a few clunkers on Chasing Lights, most noticeably the titular track (which sounds like a poor man’s Vanessa Carlton, and a chorus all too reminiscent of Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Wanna Wait”). “Set Me Off” has a beat that sounds like a 2008-Britney track (which would be wonderful), but lackluster vocals make it ultimately unremarkable. Other tracks, “Vulnerable” and “Why Me, Why Now”, aren’t particularly bad – but they’re not rememberable either.
Perhaps Catching Light’s most catchy and dance floor destroying track is the single “Work”. It’s easy to see why The Saturday’s drew critics’ comparisons to Girls Aloud and Sugababes – the track’s music video is a sleek and well polished pop masterpiece.
Catching Lights was re-issued in 2009 to add the group’s Comic Relief single, a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”. The retro pinup inspired video was perfectly crafted; despite being a cover, “Just Can’t Get Enough” is authentically The Saturdays, with a sound and matching video that capture the group’s essence.
Ultimately, Catching Lights is a solid debut from the U.K. girl group with strong singles and a forgivable amount of filler. Don’t miss out on “If This Is Love”, “Up”, “Work”, “Just Can’t Get Enough”, “Issues” and “Fall”. Skip “Chasing Lights” and “Set Me Off” — grab your Vanessa Carlton and Britney Spears records to listen to better tracks in the same vein. If you’re a fan of girl power-pop, you’ll like The Saturdays — but if you want your pop to have real substance along with its style, you’ll find that Chasing Lights comes up short.