Originally written and published by me for PopMatters.
If you were happening to wonder who the breakup songs are about on Little Mix’s new studio album, they aren’t so much about a romance. Confetti is the group’s first record to be released under a new deal with RCA, having parted ways with Simon Cowell’s Syco Music just days before the release of their last album LM5 in 2018. “For all the times they screwed us over,” screamed the girls on lead single “Break Up Song” back in March, followed by the breezy “Holiday” in the summer—leaving us to only assume that this breakup album would be more about liberation than anything else, both the literal and figurative throwing of confetti.
Little Mix, who describe this new era as being freed from unrealistic expectations, have indeed made their most liberated and authentic music to date once left to their own devices. While the women have always played active roles as lyricists on their albums, there’s something about Confetti that is both refreshing and familiar. While the production sounds at times new and boundary-pushing for the group, it’s also a throwback to their earlier bubblegum pop days—except this time with grownup sounds and poignant lyrics. With this album, Little Mix has captured the best of both worlds: the beloved dance-pop that made them famous with newfound creative freedom and power.
“If I’m a guilty pleasure, I want this life forever,” they sing on “Not a Pop Song,” perhaps the album’s boldest offering (lyrics which just reiterate Jesy Nelson’s biggest pet peeve: “We don’t want to be anyone’s guilty bloody pleasure! We’re really bloody talented, actually!”) And if there was any doubt that the group’s split from Simon Cowell was an influence on Confetti, the line “we don’t do what Simon says” should make that crystal clear.
Additionally, the album finds the women more at peace with the power pop that was perhaps forced on them by the Syco pop factory. “Happiness,” one of the group’s best songs to date, sounds like a mature adult coming to terms with the end of a messy youth: “Realized from the moment I set you free / I found the love, I found the love in me.” The track is reminiscent of “The Cure” from LM5, but that song sounded horribly out of place on an experimental album of R&B and trap. Confetti, by contrast, is a return to the Little Mix we know and love, minus men in charge forcing them to be puppets on strings.
In addition to being bold and grown up, the album is campy and fun in a way that sounds completely natural to the group. On “Nothing But My Feelings,” they embrace their sexuality: “I’m layin’ here in nothin’ but my feelings / Plus some diamonds, drippin’ from my earrings / Waitin’ for you.” On “A Mess (Happy 4 U),” they’re not exempt from jealousy or depression: “If I can’t be happy, happy with you / I’ll be happy, happy for you / I guess no hard feelings / ‘Cause loves looking good on you.” And on “My Love Won’t Let You Down,” they’ve written a love letter to both diehard fans and a world on fire: “When the party’s over and your friends have all gone / And you’re wondering where it all went wrong / I’ll come runnin’ when you call out my name / And it’ll always be this way.”
It’s a shame that Little Mix already used the title Glory Days for their fourth album in 2016, because this record definitely sounds like more of a glory period for the group. Entertaining but not over the top and bold but not self-serving, Confetti is their best work to date.
Jeffrey’s favorites from Confetti: “Break Up Song,” “Holiday,” “Confetti,” “Happiness,” “Not a Pop Song,” “Nothing But My Feelings,” “A Mess (Happy 4 U),” and “My Love Won’t Let You Down”