Originally published on So So Gay on 28 October 2014.
First time around they parted ways as a five-piece back in 2009. Four years later, they reunited as a quartet, but after just one single together were reduced to a trio when newly engaged Aundrea Fimbres left to focus on starting a family. However, before intended comeback album DK3 could even be released, girl group Danity Kane split-up once again, following allegations of a physical altercation between members of the group at the start of August. If nothing else, Aubrey O’Day, Dawn Richard and Shannon Bex’s new effort must claim some sort of record for managing to be both their comeback and disbandment album.
At just over 37 minutes and 10 tracks long, DK3 isn’t a record that hangs about, padded out with forgettable filler tracks – a critique that could arguably be made of their first two albums, Danity Kane and Welcome to the Dollhouse (15 and 19 tracks, respectively). Both had a clear musical formula, with minimal deviation; when it worked it was stellar, but when it didn’t it could result in generic material. DK3 is a concise, varied and vibrant collection, yet still works seamlessly as a whole.
Opening with the twinkling EDM/R&B hybrid ‘Rhythm of Love’, this should have been heralding a triumphant return for the girls. The Tyga-featuring single ‘Lemonade’ follows, and still bristles with its crisp beats and nonchalant swagger that marks it out as a highlight among many highlights. Brash and ballsy BANGER, ‘All In A Day’s Work’ picks up where ‘Lemonade’ left off, but the album isn’t all about bravado.
The trio have crafted a first rate collection that includes the aforementioned contemporary R&B, but also chucks a little disco-throwback (‘Secret Lover’), pulsating synth-pop (‘Roulette’), and infectious funk (‘Bye Baby’) into the mix. Along with the uptempo R&B, there’s brooding, ambient cuts in the form of the throbbing emotion of ‘Pieces’ and sexual yearning of ‘Tell Me’.
Perhaps the only criticism of DK3 would be the back-to-back tracks of ‘Tell Me’ and ‘Two Sides’, which sound like two halves of the same whole – though the latter in particular has the distinction of some wonderfully soulful harmonies. When the rest of the package is such a fine crop of potential hit singles, however, this is a very minor quibble.
Previously leaked track ‘Bye Baby’ closes DK3 on a high, with yet another killer hook and a sadly appropriate lyrical theme. Fimbres’ vocals have understandably been removed for the album version of this track, but the remaining trio successfully cover her sections so that the difference is negligible.
With DK3 being such a superb album, the only silver lining to the girls’ abrupt disbandment and derailing of the Danity Kane comeback train is we’ll undoubtedly be getting some more excellent solo material from O’Day and Richard a lot sooner than expected.
In the meantime, DK3 serves as a decisive reminder of Danity Kane’s short-lived brilliance, full of tight harmonies and killer hooks, and a definite Album of the Year contender. As O’Day rightly proclaims on the chorus for the irrepressible ‘All In a Day’s Work’, they’re ‘makin’ this shit look easy’. Now if only these girls can get their collective shit together, let bygones be bygones, and bring us album number four in the near future, this would be music to our ears.
Standout Tracks: ‘Lemonade’ / ‘All In a Day’s Work’ / ‘Secret Lover’ / ‘Bye Baby’