Top-Notch Dance Pop
When the Pussycat Dolls soared up the pop singles chart this summer with their #1 hit "Don't Cha," it was tempting to think they would be another in a long line of one hit wonders. After listening to their first album PCD it sounds like they may be around for a while. A great deal of the credit is due lead Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger. She came to the group with pop-rock experience as the lead vocalist for Eden's Crush. She does all of the vocals here which makes the album, musically at least, a Scherzinger solo release.
PCD is populated by a number of high quality dance-pop songs put together under the watchful eye of veteran executive producer Jimmy Iovine and top-notch guest production talent including r&b/rap master Timbaland. Many of the tracks work well. The clever sample from ELO's "Evil Woman" that provides a musical hook for "Beep" is indicative of the campy good humor present in much of this music. Most of these songs will work well onstage with the Dolls' burlesque style.
Unfortunately, the album does fall several steps short of perfection. In particular, there are 2 glaring mis-steps in remakes of pop classics. "Hot Stuff (I Want You Back)" attempts to weld Donna Summer's rock-disco classic "Hot Stuff" with an electro beat akin to Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head." It doesn't work.
Even more unfortunate is a lifeless, passion-less reworking of "Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go." This version lacks the soulful passion of the original 60's recordings and the minimalist sleaze that animated the more familiar smash medley from Soft Cell in the '80's. The group would be well served to banish this from the stage act.
A Welcome Debut
Despite some low moments, PCD is a successful debut by the Pussycat Dolls. Frequently, the music brings to mind the highlights of the dueling girl groups put together by Rick James (Mary Jane Girls) and Prince (Vanity 6) in the '80's. Light stretches into Asian ("Buttons") and Latin ("Right Now") beats help add some variety to the package. Lyrically, the songs incorporate innuendo and tease but deftly avoid the increasing glut of explicit sexual content. The Pussycat Dolls variety of sexual allure and a dose of girl power is welcome in the pop arena.
Listen to the full album streaming on MySpace.