Sometimes you want a five-course meal, other times you need some gooey, syrup-filled bubblegum. Australian singer Gina G's material definitely sits in the latter territory as far as musical nutritional value. There's nothing heavy or fattening about her Warner debut, but it is addictively sweet. Gina G's material isn't exactly Fresh! as the title claims, but it is the first time we've heard pop ballads and percolating dance tracks of this calibre since the early days of Madonna. Gina G is solidly in the pop camp of Kylie Minogue, Debbie Gibson and the Material Girl, ("Ti Amo" sounds like a rewrite of "La Isla Bonita").
There's more of a club dance beat and synth sound to the uptempo songs than any of the above-mentioned '80s pop divas ever produced, but basically, Gina G is a sweet-voiced pop singer with some hummable songs, a sometimes soulful backup chorus and a good drum machine.
While close to half of the songs on the album fall in the "pleasant but forgotten as soon as the keyboard stops" category, Fresh! starts out with what should be the dance club sensation of the year: "Ooh Aah...Just A Little Bit" is a pure hair-flipping bit of flirting, teasing fun. This is just the sort of fodder to form into a perfect pop hit : "ooh aah, just a little bit/ooh ah/A little bit more/you know what I'm looking for/ooh aah, just a little bit/ooh aah/I'll give you love you can't ignore."
With its Erasure-esque galloping beat, "Ooh Aah" was already a million-selling hit single in Europe last year and could be just the song to remind radio programmers here that a good pop song is meant to be upbeat, danceable and...well... a bit like good bubblegum — something you can chew for a long time without it going stale. Unfortunately, the album also closes with "Ooh Aah," but the closing version is a lame, uninteresting remix for clubs that DJs would be advised to avoid, unless they're looking to clear the dance floor.
The album titletrack "Fresh!" is equally as "chewable" as the first version of "Ooh Aah ," with a funky guitar line, background crowd cheers and a sassy, sultry Gina pledging, "I want to get fresh/I wanna do all the things that turn you on/I wanna get fresh/get a little closer/if it feels so right/how can it be wrong tonight?"
Despite the come-on lyrics and provocative album cover (Gina, apparently wearing only a healthy gloss of chocolate frosting), Fresh! remains safely a PG album in content, and includes as many sticky sweet love songs as dancefloor teases. In "Tia Amo," a chugging amalgamation of synth rhythms and Spanish guitars, she sings of lusty memories: "Now dream is all I do/of paradise and you." And in the album's lush ballad, "Every Time I Fall," she complains of her inability to escape from falling for a lover's lies because "you are my weakness." In the album's second best dance track, "Rhythm of My Life" she offers a strictly teenage-aimed lyric:
"Cut your hair, rip your jeans
I'm a victim of your fashion scene
My brother doesn't like you
but my sister thinks you're cool...you're the rhythm of my life
I wanna be with you tonight."
Dancy, slick and always fun, Fresh! is full of some of the catchiest lite pop tracks in years. If you've missed the days of Company B, The Cover Girls, and the 3Ms (Martika, Minogue and Madonna) let your ears chew on something Fresh!