Dangerous and Moving
ack in 2003, the only people who were running things to the same extent as taTu were Robert Pires and General Tommy Franks. And whilst the interim has seen ongoing cruciate ligament problems and the emergence of that hunky Jalal Talabani render those two irrelevant in the 05, taTu, somehow, miraculously, still matter. And, as with most other miracles, you may want to praise your deity of choice as a result.
Shit got real in the past 730 days though. First we found out they weren't lesbians (begins with "no" ends with "Sherlock"). Then we found out they weren't really heterosexuals either, and then we went through an entire year of made-for-TV-movies worth of pregnancies, abortions, contractual disputes, "taking heroin for a bet," kung-fu experts, and mystery third women making appearances as lovers, and, of course, their wondrous, if lacklustre, appearance at the 2003 Eurovision song contest, where they basically talked so much trash and beef-start about their competitors, apparently 50 Cent sent them a telegram the following day saying "Steady on girls, they're just trying to do their job." But they're here, they ain't queer, and they're still pretending to be. Get used to it.
Anyway, taTu running it on the lipstick lesbian front has always been infinitely more engaging, entertaining, and pointful than Franz Ferdinand's fauxmosexuality. Whereas Kapranos 'n' Chums broach the topic of what it might be like to be gay with all the sophistication and panache of early 80s light entertainment don Stu "I could crush a grape" Francis, taTu have always realised that lipstick lesbianism on its own is never enough. It may come down to the fact that we're watching pornography for the plot here, but it's a fucking good plot. The last album was basically "me and you against the world," yet still finding time for photo-shoots and leaving lipstick marks on each other's collar. Two years later, and with all the aforementioned context forming the contents of Russian gossip rags in the interim, things have taken a slightly darker turn.
It's there in opening single "All About Us" (fuck Clarkson, Stevens, and Aloud—pop single of the year by a mile). It runs along on animalistic lust, high-off-your-own-supply paranoia, mental anguish, and the ever-present threat of sudden, bloody violence. If Tony Soprano was two nubile Russian chicks, this is the kind of song he'd be writing.
"We used to love one another, give to each other, lie undercover, so: are you friend or foe?" goes the uber-meta "Friend or Foe," which is effectively a straight-up rewrite of previous album single "Not Gonna Get Us." And whilst everyone and their one-single-away-from-being-dropped ex-S Club member are giving it some on the meta-pop tip, it's weird to hear from people who are actually living a life worth singing about making that kind of music. It may go ballad-heavy at times, but they're living a kind of ballad-heavy existence, and even so, taTu still most resemble two expelled schoolgirls driving a tank into the middle of an Eastern European rave and demanding that the DJ play some Springsteen circa The River.
Also, Richard Carpenter and Sting are both apparently on this album somewhere, and it's a testament to how great it is that I can't actually tell where.
Reviewed by: Dom Passantino
Reviewed on: 2005-10-21