ALBUM REVIEW: Little Mix stays above the fray on ‘Between Us’

Little Mix, Between Us

Little Mix, “Between Us.”

Little Mix is celebrating 10 years with its first greatest hits album, Between Us, which includes four new tracks (five in the deluxe edition). Ten years after their vertiginous rise to the rank of biggest “girl band” in the world, the women have much to look back on–and an astonishingly long list of tracks to pick from for their first compilation.

Between Us
Little Mix
RCA, Nov. 12

The tracklist spans their biggest successes from 2012 debut DNA to 2020’s Confetti and even more recent cuts, including last summer’s collaborations with Anne-Marie (“Kiss My (Uh Oh)”) and David Guetta and Galantis (“Heartbreak Anthem”). 

The very nature of a greatest hits compilation highlights the evolution of the band’s sound across the six studio albums so far. The songs’ lyrical maturity developed as the women themselves grew up along with their music: themes of empowerment and feminine solidarity have always been an important part of the Little Mix brand, but LM5 (2018) marks a turn in terms of what the group actually brings to the table.

The band’s second single, “Wings,” already conveyed messages of empowerment, but tracks like “Wasabi” (LM5) take their message one step further beyond its initial naivety. At this point, Little Mix had been confronted with the realities of releasing music and simply existing as an all-female band for some time. And this encompasses the systemic misogyny that has plagued coverage of their performances over all the years. Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards and Jesy Nelson naturally had more to say in response to it all in those later years. 

The breakup material has also gotten more incisive and creative across the years. The polite send-offs progressively got more honest and cathartic. Take “Hair” (from 2013’s third album Get Weird) and its explicit frustration (“‘Cause he was just a dick and I knew it”) for instance, or Glory Day’s lead single, “Shout Out to My Ex,” the band’s most anthemic song yet.

On “Sweet Melody” (Confetti), the quartet sings, “He used to sing me sweet melodies/ He played me, made me believe it was real love,” to one of their more daring arrangements to date. New track “Cut You Off” is their most cutthroat track in recent memory. Speculation abounds as to whether the song addresses the rift between Nelson and the remaining band members. Gossip aside, “Cut You Off” is a savage pop breakup diatribe that can hold its own against most of the band’s hits. Slinky, sexy and playful, the track is the prototype of the direction Little Mix has been steadily headed the past few years. The song artfully combines the more mature, multigenerational genre synthesis of LM5 and the upbeat colorful music of Confetti–and Between Us is all the better for it.

As much as the band’s sound has changed over the years, its tendency to surreptitiously latch on to the time’s fads is rendered all the more palpable by such a presentation. “Woman Like Me” sounds pretty much like Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side.” It’s no surprise the track ended up in Nicki Minaj’s hands for a feature slot. “Shout Out to My Ex” also gives country-EDM hits a run for their money not long after the genre’s heyday. Finally, the Latin tropical house under(over?)tone on “Touch” is another startling synergy with the times’ biggest commercial hits.

New track “No” sounds carved in the very same vein as fellow U.K. electro-pop stars Mabel and Anne-Marie’s recent output. It solidifies the band’s transition into club pop. “Trash” (available on the deluxe edition) supplements “No” in this regard. Yet it doesn’t add anything to the table that wasn’t already sampled in the tracks leading up to it. It’s full of glitz, glam but lacks substance.

The title track comes along like a victory lap. The song references several of the band’s past hits in an epic “lighters up in the air” ballad. The moment is unfortunately undermined by a subpar nondescript trap beat. Still, it hits an emotional chord made even more potent by the feeling this 10-year milestone might entail more than we suspect. Few groups have had as much success as Little Mix. Even fewer have done accomplished it all with as much grace.

Follow writer Red Dziri at

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