Dot Music Date : 11 August 2000

Released on: Mon 31 Jul 2000

 Elbow Beach

 The last time Louise had an album in the charts, she had just left Eternal, was a permanent fixture on the cover of every lad mag on the market and her only real competition in terms of female solo pop stars came from a pre-pubescent Billie Piper before she decided to reclaim use of her surname.

 Two years is a long time in pop music, however, and as she returns with her third solo album Louise enters a savage musical world where she must jostle for chart positions with the likes of Britney, Christina, Samantha, Girl Thing, Atomic Kitten and the other sixty female pop acts launched each and every morning.

 The fact that Louise is old enough to be most of her competitors' mother (well slightly older sister at least) is perhaps less of a concern than her abject failure, up until now, to come up with a tune that you could remember three minutes after having first heard it. '2 Faced', the first single from the album, with its catchy TLC inspired commercial r&b feel, is something of a novelty then, and serves as a positive representation of the album as a whole.

 It's hardly ground breaking stuff of course, and with lines like "I'm taking my clothes off/ Baby I'm in control" from 'For Your Eyes Only', it clearly plays up to Louise's 'FHM' fodder image. However, 'Beautiful Inside' -complete with Wu Tang Clan samples and a low down sleazy brass feel- and the majestically melodious 'Egyptian Queen', betray a more clearly defined pure pop sensibility that was missing in the Louise of old.

 Things get slightly laboured two thirds of the way in as Louise enters saccharine ballad territory. However, we are offered a temporary reprieve, in the form of the ludicrously catchy 'City Boy Fix' in all its bouncy brass and good time glory.

 In the final analysis, 'Elbow Beach' is never going to be a great voyage of discovery, offering previously hidden musical treasures to the listener on every hearing. It is however a decent, if entirely predictable, album which should hold its own in the savage world of teen girl pop.