Review: Little Mix’s LM5

Little Mix, the most successful X Factor UK winners ever, are back with their fifth studio album, LM5, named in reference to what the fans would refer to the album before it got the title. Which ended up being the real title, it’s a bit confusing, but it’s unique, so we’ll leave it at that. Though most of their fans were probably too young to have even watched their iconic say ‘Don’t Let Go (Love) performance on The X Factor, in fact many may not have even been born, Little Mix have still become one of the most successful girl groups of all time, and now it’s time to see if they can boast the longevity that other girl bands have famously lacked.

LM5 isn’t bad, let’s say that from the start, in fact it has a few tunes, but its themes and its message become much more important than the music, and in truth, a lot more enjoyable than the tracks to convey them. LM5 is more r’n’b than pop, more experimental than safe, this is a new era with key messages of sisterhood, self empowerment and confidence. But where are the bops? The hits?

‘Woman Like Me’ is a strong lead single, the collaboration with Nicki Minaj is an anthem of self-love, respect and empowerment, plus it features one of the biggest names in rap. ‘Strip’ has been a talking point lately, its promotion has been intentionally provocative and it’s become a true talking point in the British media, opening up discussions that may have never happened. Whilst the track promotes important messages for young girls, it falls short sonically. It’s experimental and fresh, but it’s not really up to scratch with their back catalogue. However, it’s time to appreciate the messages and importance behind the lyrics a bit more.

The slower tracks are the best, ‘Monster In Me’ is between ballad and sad pop banger, the same can be said for ‘Notice’. Sure these songs are a little cliche, but they’re truly enjoyable to listen to, which is sadly more than can be said for other tracks – ‘American Boy’ fails to stand up to Estelle’s track of the same name, for example.

‘Wasabi’ is an exciting pop hit, it’s one I can see climbing the charts in the future for sure. ‘Love a Girl Right’ is definitely one of the better tracks, my original notes next to this just say ‘boss’ and that’s all that needs to be said really. ‘Only You’ features Cheat Codes, it’s probably the best song on the album, ironically its the one song which sounds completely different to the rest of it. ‘Joan of Arc’ is nice, it’s a great concept to hear Little Mix weave in a small bit of history and feminism into their tracks, knowing young girls will be listening to this, it’s a bold and incredible move on their behalf.

This album is diverse in it’s topics, it doesn’t take a narrow view of feminism, the girls dissect love, friendship, self-confidence and more in these tracks. Plus it feels like there’s something for their whole fanbase, from small tidbits of confidence for their youngest fans, to their refusal to view sex as a taboo subject to sing about for their teenage and older fans.

Is this album groundbreaking in terms of the music itself? Not really, it doesn’t hold up to the wealth of pop out there, nor does it stand out within Little Mix’s own discography. But at this point, it’s time to focus on what has been placed behind the beats. The messages and broad themes of LM5, getting through pain and finding empowerment in yourself and your mates, cannot be understated. LM5 is more than an album, it’s a bit of a mantra, a survival guide and a support network for those who need it.

Little Mix are continuing to be role models and be more important then they’re given credit for, it’s key to remember they can surely sing about whatever they want, this is their experimental era after all, but they’re taking a stand on issues important to them. Sure the music might not be for many, might not be critically the most impressive thing, but it’s shaping young minds and they’re doing it , right, plus by even being on a website and reading a review, we’re probably not in the target market.

Girl groups have the toughest time of it in the industry, they are continuously disrespected by the media and labels, but Little Mix have powered on, they’ve done what they want and accepted no compromises, they’ve been provocative and innovative, and for that we should applaud and celebrate the era of LM5, even if it isn’t our cup of tea.

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Apart from working as a music journalist, David works in social media within the charity sector. He's a big fan of everything travel, coffee and dogs and a complete expert on everything Bastille and Lorde.
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