Fresh off their Summer Hits Tour 2018, British phenomenon Little Mix released their fifth album aptly titled “LM5.” “LM5” finds the quartet, to quote member Leigh-Anne Pinnock, “more confident than ever.” The album benefits from the girl group taking more ownership in the studio — they penned half the tracks on the album — and developing a more mature sound. Unfortunately, their newfound sound works like a double-edged sword. In an attempt to mature their sound, Little Mix tries too hard at creating experimental sounds and following trends. Long gone are the days of Little Mix singing saccharine songs about blind puppy love. Lyrically, “LM5” is an unabashedly feminist LP with a number of songs revolving around female empowerment and confidence with love as an afterthought. The lyrical masterpiece of the album is “Love a Girl Right.” It takes the musical masterpiece “Thong Song” by Sisqo and updates it for 2018. With lyrics like “I’ll be there for my girl always / She mean the whole world to me,” “Love a Girl Right” flips the objectifying lyrics of the “Thong Song” on its head. Sonically, “LM5” leans more towards R&B than the other efforts produced by the group. They ditch the sickly-sweet pure pop sound of their past albums and trade them in for trap beats and urban influences. “Joan of Arc” and “Told You So” best exemplify this sound, with the former being an infectious, feminist, club-ready song. On the chorus of the former the girls proudly declare their independence and sing, “I don’t need a man / If I’m loving you it’s ‘cause I can (‘Cause I can) / I don’t want your cash / I put my own rock on my hand.” Produced by up-and-coming artist MNEK, “Told You So” is the polar opposite “Joan of Arc.” Reminiscent of “Girl” by Little Mix’s predecessors, Destiny’s Child, the track is a guitar-based ballad about finding strength in friends after leaving a relationship. On "LM5,” the group has something to say, and they do so while giving listeners something to dance and sing their hearts out to. “Notice” stands out as the highlight of the album. The track is a sensual, slow-burning, mid-tempo tinged with R&B influences. Of all the tracks, “Notice” contains the best vocal performance from the group. They place ad libs and harmonies all throughout the background of the song like a little surprise for listeners, who can discover a new vocal layer with each listen. “Notice” also sees the quartet at their most sexually explicit, crooning the lines, “So what’s the point of wearing nothing if you never notice / There’s sex in the air.” Despite all the versatility the Little Mix show with their new sound and lyricism, the attempts at trendiness and originality are poorly executed. Perhaps vying for American success, they created an album filled with carbon copies of American hits. The lead single, “Woman Like Me,” sounds eerily similar to “Side to Side” by Ariana Grande, “Wasabi” sounds like a tame take on “Don’t Hurt Yourself” by Beyoncé and “Motivate” an exact replica of “I Like It” by Cardi B. In addition to ripping off their American contemporaries, Little Mix tries their hand at crafting an experimental sound. Unfortunately for them, it comes across as a hodgepodge of sounds rather than actual cohesive songs. “Strip,” an anthemic up-tempo about stripping down and loving oneself at their most vulnerable, highlights their failed attempt at creativity. The song begins with an a capella intro and high heels clicking in the background, builds up to a beat drop and then changes to a trap breakdown halfway through. The song contains a beautiful message, but like the title, it would benefit from some stripping. Since their inception in 2011, Little Mix conformed to the expectations of girl groups — releasing bubblegum pop singles and turning them into hits. With “LM5,” they shed this sound and image altogether in favor for something much more adventurous and mature. While their new artistry still contains some kinks, they are well on their way coming into own and cementing their places as one of the most influential girl groups.