‘Beautiful Mess’ is Swing Out Sister’s ninth studio album and though it was released in Asia earlier this year (see our news item), it’s now been officially released in Europe and if you didn’t get it on import, now’s the time to act because the LP is exactly as described -a ‘beautiful mess‘. By ‘mess‘, though, I don’t mean ‘messy’; rather I use the word in its ‘mix’ or ‘melange‘ context. Hard to define exactly, the Swing Out Sister sound is a delicious fusion of jazz, pop, electro, hip-hop, chill and dance – though, and importantly, soul is always at the root. Eclectic – yes; beautiful definitely. Dip in almost anywhere here and hear crisp, clear, melodic music that’s sweet and sophisticated but never cloying or twee. That sound is possibly best typified by the album’s first single – ‘Something Every Day’. It’s easy to hear why the song’s been playlisted across a number of radio stations. It’s infectious. Better still is ‘I’d Be Happy’. Owing a lot to dear old Burt Bacharach, it’s as crisp as Georges Peppard’s starched shirts in ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’. There’s more homage à Bacharach on the album’s title cut; it really is ultra-catchy and Corinne’s vocal is a real delight trading melodies with some lovely muted brass. The most adventurous cuts are ‘Secret Love’ – one of the collection’s faster numbers and ‘Out There’ which has the potential to become a classic chill out anthem. Elsewhere, ‘Butterfly’ is a real finger-popper, and an appealing contrast to the also-featured gentle instrumental version and the lilting, almost ska-influenced Little Wizard Remix. ‘Something Every Day’ is also offered in remix and its electro effects and chilly atmosphere offer even more variety to an album that will sound fresh and vital even after repeated plays.