The roll-call reads like an R&B fan's most dizzying dream: the most successful female vocal group of the moment have teamed up with the likes of uber-producers Timbaland, Dr. Dre and Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins for their second album. It's a failsafe venture, you'd guess. Although Pussycat Dolls aren't renowned for their pioneering musicianship, their self-titled debut of 2005 spawned several grammatically-improper smash hits - Don't Cha and Stickwitu among them.
Since then, their star has continued its ascent; and as one recent article pointed out, Pussycat Dolls have become more of a brand than a band - not that their fans have minded as they replicate their suggestive dance moves, 'booty anklets' and 'handcuff bracelets' jangling as they jive.
What they may mind, however, is the fact that they're being offered a sub-standard collection of cliched r 'n' b songs as a second album. Guest contributors and producers matter little if the material isn't up to scratch, and some of these songs are truly vapid; sultry synthesised beats that sound like cast-offs from Britney Spears's last album (When I Grow Up), attitudal, man-hating ballads (Happily Never After) and barely-tolerable electro pop that's high on bounce, low on individuality. Even Snoop Dogg (Bottle Pop) and Missy Elliott (Whatcha Think About That) lower themselves to new levels of cheese with their contributions, although New Kids On the Block at least unintentionally provide laugh-out-loud hilarity with their breathy supplements to Lights, Camera, Action.
Pussycat Dolls may be marketed as a cross between The Spice Girls and Salt 'n' Pepa, but there's no escaping the stark fact that they sound as unoriginal and manufactured as they're hoping not to be. If - Heaven forbid - mainstream music really has succumbed to Doll Domination, then it tastes, smells and feels just as plastic as you may have imagined.