Hilary Duff
EMI 26.3.07

Like her film career, Hilary Duff’s music is hardly celebrated beyond the pre-teen market and Sugar magazine. ‘Dignity’, her third album proper, attempts address this situation as Hilary strips away with the bubblegum that has proved insanely popular with the kids and wraps her music in moody electronic textures. Considering how her last couple of flicks have mercilessly bombed at the box office (including America where the Duff brand is at its most lucrative), this is both a risky and necessary move.

‘Dignity’ is close in style to Kylie Minogue’s criminally underrated DeConstruction years or, at a push, Rachel Stevens. The straight-outta-1982 synths of ‘Never Stop’ and the Depeche Mode referencing ‘Dreamer’ are bright-eyed slices of playful pop that manages to retain some of the bubblegum of old, even if the latter is blatantly about her stalker! The title track comes up tops with its mash-up of disco beats and Talking Heads-styled guitar licks, whilst ‘Gypsy Woman’ - despite boasting a title more suited to a ropey metal album – is a weird and slinky riposte to a nasty boyfriend stealer (who, Hilary insists, is not Nicole Richie, okay?).

It’s not all killer as there is a fair amount of filler. The Eastern-flavoured opening track ‘Stranger’ and drab ballad ‘Burned’ try a little too hard in their attempts at creating credible grown up pop, whilst ‘I Wish’ and ‘No Work, All Play’ tend to coast along in rather routine fashion. In the album’s weaker moments, there’s a slight temptation to retreat to the saccharine guilty pleasures of the Duff’s debut album, ‘Metamorphosis’.

Ultimately, for all its efforts, ‘Dignity’, is unlikely to find acceptance with the adult market but might just silence a few sniggers. That great bubblegum pop album of our (or rather, my) dreams is still possible.

Ross Halewood