Wait a minute: Didn't we just hear Little Mix's first album, like, less than a year ago? Indeed we did.
Way back then in the good old days of 2013, this British girl group was busy outdoing the Spice Girls' chart performance with a debut effort called DNA. Now those four young women are back, 9 months later, with a sophomore follow-up, Salute. Given such a quick turnaround, it's obvious that Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Jade Thirlwall continue to carefully pore over their One Direction playbook.
Like their fellow X Factor alumni, the Little Mix ladies have obviously decided that the best way to sustain newfound fame is to release new material as fast as humanly possible. And as if to prove just how fast that really is, Salute has already been out more than three months in England. Which must mean the girls are almost done recording album No. 3 right now.
Regardless, Little Mix has currently paired its blitzkrieg release strategy with another batch of mostly upbeat tunes about empowerment and self-worth. But there are some other moves from One Direction's playbook that this popular girl band is copping too … including a couple that are not so upbeat.
"Salute" brims with girl-power motifs dressed up in military metaphors. The song admirably affirms that being a woman is about more than just looking good: "You think we're just pretty things/You couldn't be more wrong/We're standing strong, carry on." In a similar vein, "Little Me" proffers an older narrator pondering the encouragements she would deliver to her younger, more timid self if she could ("I'd tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out/Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder/Tell her she's beautiful, wonderful/ … Wish I knew back then/What I know now").
On "Nothing Feels Like You," a love-struck lady informs her beloved beau that his affection is better than riches, and that she's always thinking about him when they're separated. She tells him, "You bring out the best in me."
"Towers" majors in self-respect, as a woman determines not to fall for a conniving ex's pleas when he comes crawling back ("So don't knock on my door/And tell me you don't wanna fight/'Cause I heard it before/And I'm not going back this time"). "Competition" chastises an insecure would-be (or perhaps former) flame for his narcissistic need always to be first when there's competition in their relationship. "Boy" finds a strong woman trying to help a friend (who's emotionally crippled by a breakup) realize that she's better than all that ("Forget that boy, forget that boy/I know a bad boy ain't good enough for you/ … See what you're worth, girl/Look what you've got/He knows you're out of his league"). "Good Enough" recapitulates themes of self-respect and self-worth yet again.
"These Four Walls" gives into the depression of a devastating breakup ("I feel so numb/Staring at the shower wall/ … I tried to eat today/But the lump in my throat got in the way/ … I tried to smile today/Then I realized there's no point anyway"). As the song progresses, it's clear that this unmarried couple was also living together ("If you're not here to turn the lights off, I can't sleep/ … I lay in bed/Can't seem to leave your side/Your pillow's wet/From all these tears I've cried").
Romance kindles carnality on "Mr. Loverboy," which repeats, "You can be my lover/I can be your love," over and over again. Elsewhere on that track, we also hear, "Loving you feels so right/From the way you kiss me/And how you hold me tight/ … Blushing from cheek to cheek/And my knees are shaking." "Move" sports sultry lyrics as the Little ladies suggestively try to coax a shy guy to make his move: "Why you afraid?/ … Quit playing games/And put your arms around me/You know what to do/And we can take it down low." Elsewhere they pant breathlessly, "Don't you get comfortable/Looking so hot/I think I might fall." Things get fleshly and flirty again on "About the Boy," where we hear about his "kiss that pulls me under."
Self-confidence morphs into dangerous independence when a girl on "A Different Beat" complains, "I know my mind/I'm sick of being told/What's wrong or right." "Salute" snaps, "We'll hit you with the truth/Divas, queens, we don't need no man, salute!"
There's actually quite a lot to like on Little Mix's second effort—so maybe positivity really is in this group's DNA. More often than not, young fans will hear messages about self-worth, self-confidence and self-respect—interrelated emphases that reiterate an important message that women don't need to stay trapped in painful, emotionally abusive relationships with insecure-but-domineering men.
That's big! But Little Mix simultaneously ducks down into more problematic territory on Salute. "These Four Walls," especially, unquestioningly assumes that romance and living together are one and the same—and then gives up on getting over somebody and going on. While I can't help but feel for the shattered protagonist, I also can't help but wonder whether there might've been fewer shards of her broken heart to pick up had she not been living with the guy who eventually left her.
I just can't raise a hand for that, not even a little bit.