Originally published on So So Gay on 16 May 2015
Greg Kurstin, Xenomania, Richard X…these are a few of our favourite things. Combine their pop prowess for an album fronted by a homegrown pop princess with a proven track record for success and you would think you’d be on to a surefire winner. Sadly, for Rachel Stevens – the aforementioned popette – sophomore album Come and Get It proved to be the infamous tricky second album that unfairly derailed her singing career.
Released to near universal critical acclaim yet major indifference from the buying public – it stumbled in and peaked at #28 on the UK album charts – Come and Get It is a perfect example of the need for a column like this. Jam packed with single-ready songs, you can imagine that all involved had high hopes for this finely tuned collection of brilliantly crafted electro-pop. It hit the charts at the same time as the equally brilliant (but actually successful) Sugababes 2.0 album Taller in More Ways – or 3.0 depending on your version – and it seems pop music fans only had enough pocket money for one great album that month. While debut album Funky Dory had some real highs, it was a little patchy in places. On the other hand, Come and Get It manages to grab your attention from the off – opening with stomping second single ‘So Good’ – and doesn’t relent once during its 13 track run, with the former S Clubber handling upbeat pop as deftly as its more chilled out moments.
In a year when James Blunt infected the world with his Back to Bedlam album, it seems that Come and Get It‘s ultimate failing was timing. As rock sensibilities were starting to clutter up the charts, major releases from Coldplay, KT Tunstall and Kaiser Chiefs affected British music tastes, causing pop sirens everywhere to let out an Auto-tuned cry of despair.
Harsher critics of Ms Stevens have commented that she lacks presence and that her vocal delivery is rather cold, missing the fact that her nonchalant, slightly icy delivery meshes perfectly with the quivering synths and snapping percussion, resulting in some of the most perfectly produced pop of recent years. From the multi-layered coos of The Cure-sampling ‘All About Me’ to the silver-medal single ‘Some Girls’, via the dreamy pulse of ‘I Will Be There’ and the shimmering lament of ‘Funny How’, and it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that this wasn’t one of the biggest selling releases of 2005 – brimming as it is with potential hits. As others have mused, if released by a different artist then perhaps it would have got the recognition it truly deserves. The only real criticism of the album is that Stevens’ creative input is nonexistent – though with the brains behind the music being A-grade hit-makers, it’s a debatable concern.
At a time when she’s currently reliving the S Club party around the nation, and to celebrate ten years since the release of this undeniable gem, it seemed only fitting to highlight Ms Stevens’ cruelly overlooked second album that seemed to stall her blossoming solo career. So if you truly ‘wanna see Rachel doing her thing‘, then you really need to stop what you’re doing and download yourself a copy of this modern pop masterpiece.