It's always the ones you least expect, isn't it? Three years after the last – possibly the very last? – Girls Aloud album, one of the quintet finally releases a solo album worthy of attention.
While the obvious voices, Nadine and Cheryl, have had a go, it's shy sullen Nicola who’s made a satisfying record from start to finish.
Being by and large a blank canvas has allowed Roberts to do what she likes. And what she likes is ultra-now electro-pop with a classic melodic sheen. So clanging house producer Diplo makes mad mayhem with ear-catching single Beat Of My Drum and UK synthsters Metronomy come up with the warped Rock Lobster avant-pop of I and the dark throb of Fish Out Of Water – and somehow everything works.
She settles scores too, raging at the press over the new wave thrum of Take A Bite – "They're gonna eat all their words, they're talking absolute sh*t" – and again in gorgeous ballad Sticks And Stones – "You thought I’d cope with being called ugly". This quiet one has found a platform and she’s not going to step down without a fight.