Pure (No Angels album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||August 25, 2003|
|No Angels chronology|
|Singles from Pure|
Pure is the third studio album by all-female German pop group No Angels. It was released by Polydor and Cheyenne Records on August 25, 2003 in German-speaking Europe. Conceived after the departure of original member Jessica Wahls, the project marked the No Angels's first studio release as a quartet and their final album before their temporary disbandment in fall 2003. The remaining four members reteamed with frequent collaborators Thorsten Brötzmann and Peter Ries to work on the majority of the album, with additional songwriting and production contribution from Tobias Lundgren, Perky Park, Nigel Rush, Stephan Ullman, and duo Twin.
Recorded at the Department-2-Studios in Frankfurt am Main, Pure is predominately a pop album with slight elements of electronic, pop rock and latin music, marking a departure from the contemporary R&B and teen pop-oriented sound of previous projects; its lyrics explore themes of heartbreak, love, family, and escapism. Elaborating a more grown-up theme for the album, the band requested promotional material to depict a serious, less girlish image. Pure was released to generally mixed reviews from music critics, many of whom praised the slower songs on the album but found the rest of the material too generic
Despite failing to match the commercial success of the group's two previous albums Elle'ments (2001) and Now... Us! (2002), Pure became the No Angels's third consecutive chart-topper on the German Albums Chart and was eventually certified gold by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI). It also peaked at number two and nine in Austria and Switzerland, respectively, and produced three top five singles, including the band's fourth number-one hit "No Angel (It's All in Your Mind)". A 2004 concert tour in support of the album, the Pure Acoustic Tour, was cancelled after the group's announcement of their disbandment in fall 2003.
In June 2002, No Angels released their second album, Now... Us!, which received critical acclaim from many critics who believed the band would not last past their first album. Another major commercial success for the group, it debuted at number one on the German Album Chart. Following an exclusive swing concert at the Berlin Tränenpalast in October, No Angels soon followed with a swing album, titled When the Angels Swing, featuring their biggest hits and selected songs from their first two albums, re-arranged by Grammy Award-nominated jazz musician Till Brönner. Critically acclaimed by critics, the album reached number nine of the German Albums Chart, eventually going gold. In November, the girls embarked on their second national concert tour, the Four Seasons Tour, playing sell-out shows in theatres across German-speaking Europe.
After Jessica Wahls' pregnancy break from the group and the end of the tour, the remaining four members of the No Angels began intensifying work on their then-untitled third studio album. Encouraged to exercise more self-control on the longplayer, the band took over responsibility in composing, recording and selecting songs to guarantee a more personal theme on the album — a step that challenged criticism and growing scepticism among the band's label Cheyenne Records and recording company Polydor. "We selected song for us, which are best pop music, sort absolutely well with us, and represent at best what we want to talk about," band member Sandy Mölling said in an interview during the album's release. Impressed by the intensity of the musical output, the group settled on the album title Pure. "The music is very, very pure, [...] there's nothing we had to dissemble for, the album shows who we really are [musically]."
Recording and production
Recording of all vocals on Pure took place at the Department-2-Studios in Frankfurt am Main. Unlike with previous sessions, the remaining four band members did not record together. Instead, each member would record on her own in the studio, while vocal mixing was provided by engineers. Vocal production was supervised by frequent collaborator Nik Hafemann, with Nadja Benaissa and Vanessa Petruo contributing to the arrangement of the vocal harmonies. Petruo als penned opening track "Sister", another collaboration with songwriter Alex Geringas and producer Thorsten Brötzmann, both of who had co-written their number-one hit "Something About Us" (2001). The strings-led mid-tempo song chronicles Petruo's fallout with her father, actor Thomas Petruo, and their subsequent reconciliation. Kids voices were provided by Brötzmann's daughters Sina and Lisa-Maria.
Brötzmann produced another five songs on Pure, including the uplifting latin-flavored mid tempo song "Someday" and the melancholic latin ballad "Angel of Mine" both of which were compared to their 2002 single "Still in Love with You". He also contributed to the up tempo song "So What" and Petruo's solo song "Ten Degrees" as well as an acoustic version of Dutch musician Robbie van Leeuwen's 1969 song "Venus". The band reportedly disliked their Bananarama-influenced original rendition of the song which they had recorded as testimonials for Gillette's Venus division of razors for women in early 2003. Production on "Eleven Out of Ten", a cover version of the same-titled 2003 song by Swedish girl group Play, was helmed by Tobias Lundgren, while its songwriters, Swedish production duo Twin, provided production on the beat-driven "Feelgood Lies".
Further six tracks were produced by Peter Ries, another longtime contributor of the band, including the electronic ballad "New Beginning" and the warm acoustic ballad "Washes Over Me". His production on "You Lied" was compared to the synth sounds of British electronic musician William Orbit with whom Cheyenne Records had been in negotiations for a possible collaboration on the song, but plans fell through. "Forever Yours" incorporates slight elements of Arabic music, while "Takes a Woman to Know" combines strings and keyboard arrangements with Italian folk music. Ries also produced, "Soft Place to Fall", Benaissa's solo song, who rejected a self-written but "dramatic and melancholic" composition in favor of his track, as well as Diakovka's solo song, the rock pop-heavy "Confession". Production on another rock pop song, lead single "No Angel (It's All in Your Mind)", was overseen by Perky Park and Hafemann.
Pure was released to generally mixed reviews from music critics, many of whom praised the slower songs on the album but found the rest of the material too generic. Musikwoche remarked that the strength of the album was its ballads and cited songs such as "New Beginnig", "Washes Over Me" as well as the band's rendition of "Venus" as the "quiet, rousing highlights" of the album. The Media magazine concluded: "The third studio album of the No Angels is not as 'pure' as the title might suggest. But it is a successful proof of their heavenly vocal power." Marie-Louise Leinhos from Berlin women's magazine Aviva felt that "the album is an imaginative work with varied songs [that] is also experimental and open to new influences." She called Pure “another solid continuation” to their discography as well as a "classically crafted pop album with danceable parts."
Matthias Reichel from online magazine CDStarts criticized the album for its "overbalancing status of filling material" and rated the album three stars ouf of ten. He commented: "In principle, everything on Pure is unchanged: A few 'highlights' are flanked by soulless mass products that are on b-side level at best." However, Reichel felt that single releases such as "Someday", "No Angel (It’s All in Your Mind)" and "Feelgood Lies" as well as "Forever Yours" and "New Beginning" confirmed the songwriters' skills for catchy, radio-friendly tunes. Similarly, laut.de editor Vicky Butscher found that Pure was less of a personal album instead of a collection of "typical boy or girl group repertoire". She rated the album two out of five stars and remarked that the album was drawing inspiration from Madonna's 1998 studio album Ray of Light, particularly on "You Lied", as well as British female groups such as All Saints and the Sugababes. Satisfied with later half of the album though, she concluded: "The best thing would be for the No Angels to focus on ballads in the future. Anyone who listens to "New Beginning" or "Washes Over Me" knows why. Also, the re-arranged "Venus" is much more beautiful, than the pop jingle."
Released on August 25, 2003, Pure debuted at number one on the German Albums Chart in the week of September 8, 2003. It marked the band's third consecutive studio album to reach the top position on particular chart. Due to the announcement of their disbandment two weeks after its release, promotional efforts of the No Angels soon shifted to their first compilaton The Best of No Angels (2003) after the release of Pure's third single "Feelgood Lies" in late September 2003. Pure, however, fell out of the top ten in its sixth week of release but remained on the chart until late December 2003. While not as commercially successful as its predecessors Elle'ments (2001) and Now... Us! (2002), both of which had been promoted significantly longer and spawned several resissues and special editions, it was eventually awarded a gold certification by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI) for the shipment of more than 100,000 copies. In Germany, Pure ranked fifty-second on the national year-end chart.
In Austria, Pure became the No Angels's third consecutive studio album to reach the top two of the Australian Albums Chart. Upon its debut week, it was blocked from the top spot by Dead Letters (2003), the fifth album by Finnish rock band The Rasmus. While Pure failed to place on the national year end chart and was left uncertified, it spent twelve weeks on the chart. In Switzerland, the album became the group's third top ten album. The second highest new entry of the week after American R&B singer Mary J. Blige's album Love & Life (2003), it debuted at number nine on the Swiss Albums Chart. While none of Pure's singles managed to reach the top twenty of the Swiss Singles Chart, the album would spent one week within the top ten and remain another eight weeks on the chart.
Since the album's promotion ended in September 2003, Pure produced three singles only. Lead single "No Angel (It's All in Your Mind)", the No Angels's first release without Wahls, became the band's fourth number-one hit on the German Singles Chart. It also placed tenth in Austria, where it would become the band's seventh and final top entry on the Austrian Singles Chart. Follow-up "Someday" became the band the band's seventh top ten hit in Germany and while it peaked at number five, it would become the album's lowest-charting single. While "Eleven out of Ten" was originally announced as the album's third single, it was eventually replaced by "Feelgood Lies". A top three hit in Germany and the album's only top thirty entry in Switzerland, it became the album's highest-charting single.
|Pure – Standard edition|
|2.||"Eleven Out of Ten"||Tobias Lundgren||3:37|
|4.||"Angel of Mine"||Brötzmann||3:43|
|5.||"Forever Yours"||Peter Ries||3:25|
|9.||"No Angel (It's All in Your Mind)"||3:14|
|10.||"Takes a Woman to Know"||Ries||3:36|
|12.||"Washes Over Me"||Ries||4:13|
|13.||"Venus" (including Pure outtakes)||Robbie van Leeuwen||Brötzmann||3:18|
|Pure – Limited edition (Bonus CD)|
|1.||"Soft Place to Fall" (Nadja's song)||Allan Simpson||Peter Ries||3:26|
|2.||"Confession" (Lucy's song)||Lucy Diakovska||3:59|
|3.||"How Can We Be Friends" (Sandy's song)||Nigel Rush||3:38|
|4.||"Ten Degrees" (Vanessa's song)||Brötzmann||3:25|
- Supervising producer: Nik Hafemann
- Vocal assistance: Lisa-Marie Brötzmann, Sina Brötzmann, Freda Goodlet, Maryann Morgan, Alexa Phazer, Pam Sheyne, Rick Washington
- Engineers: Justin Broad, Trevor Hurst, Klaus Überlacker, Ulf Zwerger
- Mixing: Jeo, T. Lundgren, Peter Ries, Jörg Steinfadt
- Artwork: Ronald Reinsberg, Berlin
- Photography: Mathias Bothor
|Germany (BVMI)||1× Gold||100,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Austria||August 25, 2003||
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