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Little Mix’s pop remix

“Get Weird” shows maturity, experimentation

In a decade of pop stars like Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor, the choice to go retro is a risky one, making it harder to stand out from the crowd. The risk pays off in some places, but girl group Little Mix shines bright with new album “Get Weird.”

Whereas Little Mix’s previous album “Salute” was filled with R&B-tinged anthems, “Get Weird” roots itself in pop sounds from the past, drawing mainly from 1950s doo-wop and 1980s synthpop. With a mix of old-fashioned and forward-thinking anthems and ballads, “Get Weird” proves to be an inconsistent yet exciting album that indicates a mainstream sound for Little Mix.

More often than not, the album’s retrospective genre sampling works wonders, as in “Weird People.” The song’s warbled background bass, electronic beats, and rock star vocals call to mind the brilliance and party-all-the-time vibe of Prince’s classic single “1999.” Lead single “Black Magic” has a synthesizer chorus reminiscent of a young Cyndi Lauper, while “Love Me Like You” swings with sweet lyrics.

Not everything on the album looks to the past, however. “OMG” is a modern, radio-ready jam that would fit perfectly into Charli XCX or Iggy Azalea’s repertoire. Sometimes the old and new are mashed together, as in “Grown,” which combines handclaps, an instrumental drop and barbershop quartet melodies to create an incredibly catchy anthem.

While nostalgic tunes make up the bulk of the album, “Get Weird,” quite literally, gets weird by experimenting with eccentric song styles. With a clever beauty parlor metaphor, the girls wash away thoughts of an ex-boyfriend in “Hair,” which switches between a hip-hop beat and a sugary, melodic chorus throughout the song. “Lightning” is a torch song which surprisingly manages to feature both a sample of the opera “O Fortuna” and a trap-inspired bass drop.

If that sounds too experimental, try the group’s most explicit song to date, “A.D.I.D.A.S.” With lyrics such as, “Excuse me, do me or lose me, get me to the bedroom, do your duty / Milkshake milkshake, bet you like some of that strawberry,” and a “Fifty Shades of Grey” reference, the song illustrates a newfound maturity that might blossom in a future album.

While most of the songs thrill, some of the album’s ballads are mediocre and awkwardly placed. Although “Secret Love Song” — which features Jason Derulo — and “Love Me or Leave Me” showcase the group’s powerful vocals, they contain typical love lyrics that get lost amongst the faster songs. The album may have been more streamlined without these ballads, though the lack of cohesiveness may also be the fault of the collage of old and new sounds. The deluxe version alleviates some of this inconsistency with a bonus track, “I Won’t,” that harkens back to Little Mix’s early songs with a joyous piano melody and happy handclaps.

Like the song itself, “Get Weird” is a celebratory album that praises diversity and looking to the past for guidance.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

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