Sunday, 24 January 2010

2000 All Saints: Black Coffee

If the languid bliss of 'Pure Shores' took All Saints away from their original remit, 'Black Coffee' takes them a good two steps further again - instead of the band/William Orbit co-written collaboration of the former, 'Black Coffee' was very much an outside entity, being written by former Miss UK Kirsty Bertarelli for her own use. Orbit's trademark production job takes band and song so far from their original conception that, despite headline billing, All Saints here are very much supporting actors on Orbit's interpretation of someone else's song. Orbit has fun with the song's inherent shifts of key and tempo to create an electric wash of trip hop for the girls to soak in, but once filled then just about anyone could have got into that bath with the same results. The girl's spunky attitude and streetwise independence that originally caught my ear is tamed by the sense of a band doing the record label's bidding rather than following their own muse, meaning that while 'Black Coffee' is a good enough single in its own right, it's a poor advertisement for the All Saints brand. Especially so as none of the girls - either as singular or plural - has a strong or unique enough vocal to stamp a distinction from within. Make of that what you will, but I make it disappointing.

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