'We're the leaders of the pack,' Girls Aloud declare on the swooshing synth-pop of comeback single, 'Something New.' It's no idle boast. Their partnership with hit factory Xenomania revolutionised pop in the 00s, thanks to their ability to cram more hooks into each song than most of their rivals could manage in their entire career.
Now after a three-year hiatus which has seen the Sugababes implode, Pussycat Dolls call it a day and The Saturdays fail to rise above B-list status, the Aloud are back to reclaim their crown as the world's best girlband with their second hits compilation, 'Ten.'
It could have been all so different of course. Had they been lumbered with the weedy Bee Gees album track that forgotten Popstars: The Rivals boyband One True Voice were forced to record as their debut, it's unlikely that they would have lasted long enough to celebrate their one year anniversary, let alone their tenth.
But still by far the best ever talent show winner's lead single, the purely infectious blend of surf-rock, breakbeat and anthemic pop that was 'Sound Of The Underground' set them on their way to a string of hits, which apart from a couple of duff covers, managed to combine innovative production with brain-lodging melodies and a nonsensical but fun way with words.
13 of their 20 consecutive Top 10 singles are here, and although any of the omitted 'Life's Got Cold,' 'Wake Me Up' and 'Whole Lotta History' would have been preferable to the perfunctory rendition of The Pretenders 'I'll Stand By You' that appears in their place, its track-list is still a fair reflection of their hugely impressive back catalogue.
The 'My Sharona'-inspired power pop of 'No Good Advice,' the Northern Soul pastiche of 'Biology' and the classic rock n' roll-tinged 'Love Machine' are perfect examples of how they fused the old with the new. The adrenaline-fuelled sugar rush of 'Something Kinda Ooooh' and 'Sexy! No No No...' still sound as thrilling as they did over half a decade ago, while the gorgeously melancholic electro of 'Call The Shots' and 'The Loving Kind' proved that they didn't always have to resort to karaoke staples when it came to sophisticated ballads.
Bizarrely, two of the four new tracks aren't from the Xenomania stable, and it shows. 'Beautiful Cause You Love Me' is an overly-slushy love song which could quite easily have been a reject from Cheryl Cole's last album, while 'On The Metro' is an enjoyable but utterly generic slice of glittery disco-pop that lacks the spark of their usual uptempos. In saying that, the formulaic floorfiller 'Every Now And Then' is by far from their best work either, although the euphoric 'Something New' suggests a new studio album wouldn't exactly be a terrible idea.
The whole 'Ten' angle may be a bit cheeky considering they've been away for so long, but to quote the title of their only track to miss the Top 10, this triumphant retrospective proves that at least for their first seven years, they were virtually untouchable.