Testament
Studio album by
Released27 July 2018 (2018-07-27)
Studio
Genre
Length47:01
LabelAS
Producer
All Saints chronology
Red Flag
(2016)
Testament
(2018)
Singles from Testament
  1. "Love Lasts Forever"
    Released: 31 May 2018
  2. "After All"
    Released: 26 July 2018

Testament is the fifth album by English-Canadian girl group All Saints. It was released on 27 July 2018 through AS Recordings, the group's independent record label. The album was preceded by the release of the singles "Love Lasts Forever" and "After All". It debuted at number 15 on the UK Albums Chart and received generally favourable reviews from music critics upon release.

Background and development

Following a hiatus of nearly 10 years, All Saints released their fourth album Red Flag in April 2016.[2] It received generally positive reviews from music critics and entered the UK Albums Chart at number three.[3][4] After the group embarked on the Red Flag Tour in October 2016, a sold-out headlining tour in support of the album, member Shaznay Lewis began working on demos for Testament.[5][6]

The album is the band's first to feature production by George Moore. All Saints favoured working with him because being their tour managing director, he had knowledge of their voices, sound and what songs would translate in a live setting.[7] During her first studio session with Moore after the Red Flag Tour, Lewis wrote "Who Do You Love" and liked the drama in its music.[6] However, Lewis felt it was missing something until she read an extract from poet Lang Leav's book, The Universe of Us, which became the song's introduction.[8][9] Among the first tracks recorded for Testament, "Three Four" came about during a late-night open mic Lewis, and group members Melanie Blatt and Nicole Appleton had over drinks with their long-time producer Karl "K-Gee" Gordon.[10][11]

All Saints found inspiration from music Gordon played in the studio or songs they listened to on tour. Lewis made use of a dictaphone to record sounds that inspired her. She recorded the melody for "I Would" on her phone in an empty sauna.[8] "Don't Look Over Your Shoulder" was written in Blatt's house in Ibiza.[12] It was inspired by "Super Rich Kids" by Frank Ocean featuring Earl Sweatshirt; both songs sample the thumping piano line of Elton John's "Benny and the Jets".[8] Blatt referred to it as being the punch line of another song Lewis wrote that ultimately did not make the album's final track listing.[12] The original production of "Footprints" which Lewis composed with producer Fred Ball was scrapped in favour of a version Gordon sent that turned down the backing track for the group to approve vocals. They chose this version inspired by the minimalism of Chloe x Halle's The Kids Are Alright.[13] "Fumes" was among the last tracks developed for Testament. Lewis said its backing track "kind of sat around for a while and once we sort of came up with an idea, it happened quite quickly."[14] "Glorious" was recorded when All Saints thought the album was complete.[15] Recording for the album took place at Manley Court Studios in Stoke Newington and Sunhatch II Studios.[9]

William Orbit sessions

In May 2018, All Saints confirmed that they had worked with producer William Orbit for the first time since their second album, Saints & Sinners (2000).[16] Orbit had focused on art instead of music for the last 10 years of his career, and it was not until Lewis and Nicole Appleton ran into him one night in Soho that he suggested working with the band again.[17][18] Recording with Orbit would involve the group doing numerous vocal takes through trial and error, instead of him "chopping up the vocals and piecing them together."[16]

Orbit co-wrote and produced two songs for Testament.[9] The first, "Testament In Motion", was a revisited demo that he wrote with Lewis in 2008 during the band's second hiatus.[19] Lewis kept the demo throughout her time of writing for other singers and bands, believing it was an All Saints song. Blatt was the most reluctant to like the track and found it dated. She gave a lot of musical input and spent time in the studio, picking the song apart and honing in on instruments Lewis never took notice of. These instruments were then enhanced and took the track in a new direction, making it sound completely different to the demo.[8][19] "After All" was the most challenging song on Testament to finish. Lewis wrote the track with Hutch, who produced the group's 2016 single "One Strike", but felt its sound did not fit with the rest of the album and asked Orbit to rework it.[8] The song went through many mixes with Lewis not playing some to the rest of the band because she saw no point.[20]

Reception

Critical response

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?6.1/10[21]
Metacritic61/100[22]
Review scores
SourceRating
The Arts Desk[23]
Classic Pop[24]
The Daily Telegraph[1]
Evening Standard[25]
God Is in the TV8/10[26]
The Guardian[27]
The Independent[28]
The Observer[29]
Q[30]

Testament received generally favourable reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from publications, it received a weighted average score of 61, based on 5 reviews.[22] AnyDecentMusic? gave the album 6.1 out of 10, based on their assessment of the critical consensus.[21]

God Is in the TV's Jonathan Wright called it "a stylish and confident album full of their usual majestic vocals and strong character" that "reveals its depth the more you listen" and "solidified their return as one of the most pleasing comebacks of recent times."[26] Andre Paine of the Evening Standard argued that "closer listening reveals sonic innovation underpinning the melodies," and concluded, "With this assured album, you might realise just how much you've missed them."[25] Thomas H. Green of The Arts Desk wrote that "alongside solid songwriting, it consistently showcases a proud upbeat sense of unforced optimism that's welcome."[23] The Independent's Elizabeth Aubrey believed All Saints evolved their sound and regarded Testament as "a welcome and judicious follow on from Red Flag."[28]

In a mixed review, The Daily Telegraph music critic Neil McCormick called it the band's best album in two decades, writing that it "elegantly updates" their sound, but felt its "looking-for-a-man stuff is out of kilter with their independent swagger".[1] Phil Mongredien of The Observer thought the album "finds them going some way to recapturing past glories" but is "let down by a few too many unremarkable ballads".[29] Writing for Q magazine, Michael Cragg commented that although Testament "produces occasional magic", it is "often suffocated by vaguely outré production flourishes".[30] Laura Snapes of The Guardian was less impressed, writing that the group were "drowned out by digital clutter". She described the album as "clenched and over-serious" and "mostly weak Lemonade."[27]

Chart performance

Testament debuted at number 15 on the UK Albums Chart, with first-week sales of 3,486 units.[31]

Track listing

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Who Do You Love"
Karl "K-Gee" Gordon4:13
2."Three Four"
  • Lewis
  • Gordon
  • Ben Cullum
Gordon4:28
3."Love Lasts Forever"
  • Lewis
  • Gordon
Gordon4:06
4."Nowhere to Hide (Interlude)"Lewis 0:31
5."No Issues"
  • Lewis
  • Moore
3:47
6."After All"
4:36
7."I Would"
  • Lewis
  • Moore
Moore3:47
8."Don't Look Over Your Shoulder"
  • Moore
  • Gordon
3:56
9."Fumes"
  • Lewis
  • Gordon
Gordon4:13
10."Testament in Motion"
  • Lewis
  • Orbit
  • Orbit
  • Rowkins[a]
3:53
11."Breathe and Let Go (Interlude)"Lewis 0:53
12."Glorious"
  • Lewis
  • Gordon
Gordon4:09
13."Footprints"Gordon4:29
Total length:47:01
Notes

Charts

Chart (2018) Peak
position
Irish Independent Albums (IRMA)[32] 11
Scottish Albums (OCC)[33] 15
UK Albums (OCC)[34] 15
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[35] 1

References

  1. ^ a b c McCormick, Neil (28 July 2018). "All Saints, Testament, review: their best album in two decades". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  2. ^ "All Saints announce Newcastle tour date". Shields Gazette. 25 July 2018. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Red Flag by All Saints". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 11 January 2018. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  4. ^ "All Saints miss out on album top spot". BBC News. 15 April 2016. Archived from the original on 4 August 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  5. ^ McGoran, Peter (9 April 2019). "All Saints to headline Bulmers Live at Leopardstown 2019". Hot Press. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  6. ^ a b All Saints [@AllSaintsOffic] (29 July 2018). "Testament Track 1. Who Do You Love Out now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ All Saints [@AllSaintsOffic] (29 July 2018). "Testament Track 5. No Issues Out now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  8. ^ a b c d e All Saints (1 August 2018). "'All Saints' Chat About Their Latest Album 'Testament'" (Interview). Interviewed by Matt Bagwell. London: BUILD Series LDN. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d Testament (Media notes). All Saints. AS Recordings. 2018. p. 10. ASRCD1.((cite AV media notes)): CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  10. ^ AllSaints [@AllSaintsOffic] (29 July 2018). "Testament Track 2. Three Four Out now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  11. ^ Lewis, Shaznay [@ShazAllSaints] (29 June 2018). "We had a late night open mic session in the studio with @melblatt and @Nicole_Appleton .. Karl made the track up and I sang ideas down the mic and we built the song from there. With a little 🥂🍸🥂💃🏾💃🏾👯♀️👯♀️😃😃❤️" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  12. ^ a b All Saints [@AllSaintsOffic] (29 July 2018). "Testament Track 8. Dont Look Over Your Shoulder Out now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  13. ^ All Saints [@AllSaintsOffic] (31 July 2018). "Testament Track 13. Footprints Out now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ All Saints [@AllSaintsOffic] (29 July 2018). "Testament Track 9. Fumes Out now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ All Saints [@AllSaintsOffic] (31 July 2018). "Testament Track 12. Glorious Out now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  16. ^ a b Levine, Nick (29 May 2018). "All Saints: 'We always felt like we were the outsiders'". Dazed. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  17. ^ Brash, Tallah (7 December 2018). "All Saints on friendship and new album Testament". The Skinny. Archived from the original on 3 September 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  18. ^ "All Saints talk about what Pride season means to them". Attitude. 20 July 2018. Archived from the original on 3 September 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  19. ^ a b All Saints [@AllSaintsOffic] (31 July 2018). "Testament Track 10. Testament In Motion Out now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  20. ^ All Saints [@AllSaintsOffic] (29 July 2018). "Testament Track 6. After All Out now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ a b "Testament by All Saints reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Archived from the original on 20 September 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Testament by All Saints Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 7 March 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  23. ^ a b Green, Thomas H. (26 July 2019). "CD: All Saints - Testament review - blissed up fifth album". The Arts Desk. Archived from the original on 30 June 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  24. ^ Wallace, Wyndham (23 September 2018). "Review: All Saints – Testament". Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  25. ^ a b Paine, Andre (27 July 2018). "Albums of the week: All Saints, Kyle Falconer and Mt. Joy". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 19 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  26. ^ a b Wright, Jonathan (31 July 2018). "All Saints – Testament (London)". God is in the TV. Archived from the original on 7 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  27. ^ a b Snapes, Laura (27 July 2018). "All Saints: Testament review – smoothies drowned out by digital clutter". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 September 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  28. ^ a b Aubrey, Elizabeth (11 July 2018). "All Saints - Testament, album review: back with aplomb". The Independent. Archived from the original on 4 September 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  29. ^ a b Mongredien, Phil (29 July 2018). "All Saints: Testament review – past glories partially recaptured". The Observer. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  30. ^ a b Cragg, Michael (September 2018). "All Saints - Testament". Q. p. 110.
  31. ^ Jones, Alan (3 August 2018). "Charts analysis: Blockbuster sales for Mamma Mia!". Music Week. Archived from the original on 5 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  32. ^ "Ireland Top 20 Independent Albums - Week 31 2018 - Week Ending 3 Aug 2018". Irish Recorded Music Association. Archived from the original on 2 September 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  33. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  34. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  35. ^ "Official Independent Albums Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 August 2018.