Red Flag is a bit like going for a run, while lacking fitness. You start off surprisingly well and then slowly and reluctantly realise that you’ve got a situation on your hands. You’re clearly struggling with this endeavour and you’re now aware of the depressing amount of ground you have to cover, which will only really inflict increased suffering. To fans of fitness, please don’t worry. I am aware that this is the wrong attitude to be taking if I am to achieve good health. However, with music and especially in the context of All Saints’ second come-back album it seems entirely appropriate. The album starts surprisingly well which leads you to believe that the rest of it would be as refreshing as the first 3 songs. As you get to the beginning of ‘Summer Rain’ you start to get a stitch and dramatically lose interest.
To be fair to All Saints their intentions with this album were clearly very good, as they’ve brought in elements of other genres like Dancehall, heard clearly on ‘Ratchet Behaviour’, and Trip – Hop, on ‘Make You Love Me’. Yet, it was probably their producer Karl Clive Gordon (AKA ‘K-Gee’) was most likely responsible for these refreshing diversities, found mainly in the backing tracks. This naturally leaves the 4 members of the group to deal with the vocal lines, harmonies and sadly the lyrics,. Although they may be attempting to depict genuine and profound feelings and/or events, they are a scream of unoriginality and laziness.
Kicking off with the group’s single ‘One Strike,’ a song which does the job, as a good charts hit. The track contains some interesting harmony, uncharacteristically good lyrics for the most part, and a catchy chorus that keeps you interested. Similar things can be said about the following tracks ‘One Woman Man,’ although may be weaker lyrically, has an even catchier chorus. ‘Make You Love Me’ is nostalgic of some of the classic anthems that the 90’s group TLC produced.
After a flying start to the album, All Saints apparently decide to shut up shop, with tracks 4 – 12 being irritatingly mediocre, especially the tepidness of the words they sing. Generally these tracks show the group attempting to be profound. These songs are dramatic in the description of their apparently oh-so uniquely difficult lives. Unforntuately, to add fuel to the fire, they do so with the most generic language and description possible, with lines such as ‘Why didn’t I see this coming?’ on ‘Red Flags’ and ‘I just can’t let go’ on ‘Who Hurt You’. However, my personal favourite is this from ‘Summer Rain’: ‘I never thought you would break my heart’.
I respect the fact that not everyone listens to the music for the lyrics but the vocals are so prominent in this album that it’s hard to find them acceptable. Believe me, I could attack the vocal lines and backing tracks in these songs almost as much as the lyrics but in many ways I’d being saying the same thing.