Sophie Ellis-Bextor returns with her sixth studio album with eleven tracks of fun and cosy pop songs beginning with the delightful and lovely 'Wild Forever' that mixes electronic washes with Ellis-Bextor's familiar and very listenable distinctive vocals. Building up to a perky chorus for a catchy bridge this is a great introduction, whilst 'Death of Love' which follows blends in with an eighties-feeling darker intro and again leads into a strong chorus, the darker lyrics working well with the multi-layered music.
Third track 'Crystallise' is a much slower track but the string work and more subdued production work well to create a touching ballad. 'Hush Little Voices' is similar in style, and takes the famous lullaby lilt and builds around it, and becomes a nice little number with a surprising country-feel in parts.
'Here Comes The Rapture' is one of the best tracks on the album. It's simple but the vocals are given room to breathe in the song and there's a lot of emotion pushed in through the strings. As we hit the half-way point we get lead single 'Come With Us' which drops us back into her familiar disco territory and this is a great, foot-tapping, sing-a-long pop hit, as good as any of her earlier big singles.
'Cassandra' which follows has another catchy chorus and a good mix of lyrics and music; 'My Puppet Heart' is perkier and more introspective, and another one of my favourites; whilst 'Unrequited' says a lot with its lyrics and darker tones. 'The Saddest Happiness' begins with a rather unusual electronic riff but doesn't quite do anything as exciting as this later in the song but it's a nice enough track. The album wraps up with the Timberland-esque 'Don't Shy Away' which ties things up nicely with a mixture of instrumentation.
'Familia' is another great collection of songs from Ellis-Bextor. It may die away a little towards the end but there are plenty of big-hitters in the first two-thirds of the album that bridge between pop, ballads and electro-pop, and it's well worth a spin. (7/10)