The cover art for Little Mix’s sixth album Confetti is beautiful. It features the group—Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall, and Perrie Edwards—with colorful glitter makeup and a backdrop that looks like distorted camera flashes. It has a distinctly original, artistic look (think HBO’s Euphoria) that’s very 2020.
Unfortunately, the promise of slick, modern pop doesn’t translate from Little Mix’s cover art to their music. The 13 tracks that compose Confetti do nothing to push the boundary of the genre, and instead rely too heavily on old pop formulas and simple lyrics.
Confetti opens with “Break Up Song,” a traditional pop track with a driving synth beat and repetitive lyrics. Maybe it’s just because the height of Little Mix’s popularity was during the early 2000s, but the track almost felt like it was something that should be playing in an Abercrombie & Fitch store.
This kind of 2014 sound continued throughout most of Confetti. “Gloves Up,” a pop ballad that takes the idea of fighting for what you want in the literal sense, features a building pre-chorus that ends with a boxing “ding!” and releases into a simple refrain. The song is equal parts ballad and computer-generated vocals, making the song feel artificial and dated.
The strangest track, though, comes in the middle of the album. “Not a Pop Song” takes a hit at Simon Cowell, whose record label Syco Music had been working with Little Mix until they abruptly cut ties in 2018. The group critiques party culture that so often defines pop music, promising that Confetti, out from under the thumb of Cowell, would be starkly different.
Little Mix proclaims, “This ain’t another pop song about falling in love / Or a party song about drinks and drugs / No more singing songs about breaking my heart / And my lonely nights dancing in the dark.” The irony is that these topics and others they discredit in “Not a Pop Song” are literally what most of Confetti centers on.
Little Mix falls in love on “Holiday,” breaks up on “A Mess (Happy 4 U),” gets drunk on “Nothing But My Feelings,” and explores all the same ideas that you’d expect to find on a girl group’s album. That’s not to say that women shouldn’t make music about their relationship experiences—in fact, too often they’re criticized for it—but, Confetti falls into this strange gray area between promising something new from the genre and adhering to its stereotypes completely.
Not only are the ideas lacking innovation, Confetti’s lyrics are so simple that they slip from relatable to ridiculous. On “Holiday,” Nelson sings, “I swear you put the sun up in my sky / When it’s cold, you pull me closer / So hot, it’s like the middle of July.” The same meaningless rhyming pops up throughout the entire album. On “Rendezvous,” Little Mix sings, “I want you every day / In every single way.”
What results from the formulaic melodies, conventional themes and simple lyrics is this feeling that Little Mix is stuck in pop music’s past. It’s unclear who their intended audience is—they censor themselves multiple times throughout the album, singing “I don’t give a what!” on “Not a Pop Song,” and “Make me feel like I’m the type of sh- that you treasure” on “If You Want My Love.” Confetti seems underdeveloped and blasé. Serving up this mid-2010s radio-pop in the era of pop powerhouses like Dua Lipa and Ariana Grande makes it seem even worse.
Little Mix gets some points for Confetti, though. Most of the choruses are decently catchy. “Confetti” and “A Mess (Happy 4 U)” especially experiment a bit more with trap beats that sound fresher.
Confetti also plays with the idea of cyclical dating culture. The album starts with “Break Up Song” and ends with “Breathe,” another song about a relationship gone wrong. Little Mix moves throughout Confetti exploring what it feels like to go through a break up, heal yourself, find someone new, and to inevitably start the whole process over again. Although the album tries to tell this story that resonates with so many modern people, the execution is so off that it nearly discredits the entire effort.
Although this album seems like it was supposed to be a kind of rebirth for the group, Little Mix’s inability to give up old pop tropes makes Confetti a bore. One of the best parts about music in 2020 is the sheer amount of interesting ideas, sounds, and mixes that are being released every day. In a world where anything is possible for pop musicians, there’s no need to cling to what’s worked. Where’s the fun in that?
Photo courtesy of Syco