At a time when some of the smartest bubblegum pop is dominating the airwaves, it’s not enough to just coo some randomly catchy phrases over a bumpin’ beat and hope that discerning ears won’t notice. Sure, Madonna managed to top the dance charts with a phoned-in track like “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” but she also earned some intense critical blowback.
While Dragonette singer Martina Sorbara has shored up dubious popularity as a result of providing the criminally annoying vocals on Martin Sloveig’s “Hello,” there’s not a whole lot about her band that elevates their third album, Bodyparts, to the level of the big-dumb-pop brilliance of Robyn, Ke$ha, Diamond Rings, or even Carly Rae Jepsen. The problem isn’t a lack of airy hooks—“Live in This City,” “Let It Go,” and “My Legs” all boast choruses that defy gravity—nor is it the unwavering electro-pop production constructed around Sorbara’s Gwen Stefani-esque baby voice delivery.
But for all its consistency, Bodyparts is almost devoid of original ideas: The songs all sound like vaguely familiar Top 40 hits or commercial jingles, while the lyrics rarely stay focused for more than a couplet or two, which makes for a free-associative catalogue of clichés, city-girl accessories, and weird euphemisms (“You launch your rocket ship / into the empty pit in my heart” from “Rocket Ship”). Sorbara’s knack for one-dimensional earworms is little more than a quick-fix sugar high, which, in the world of big dumb pop, leaves us wanting more big, and more pop.
Playlist pick “Let It Go,” which will probably have a second life as a commercial in the near future.
Dragonette plays Sound Academy (11 Polson St.) on Oct. 18.