The tricky second album is the one most acts dread, especially when expectations have reached fever pitch.
Little Mix offered up a very good debut pop album in the form of DNA this time last year, which helped them break through to international adoration.
However, following months of "it's a more mature sound" and "it's more R&B than our first", Digital Spy has had the opportunity to give follow-up Salute roughly 23 full plays - and we've jotted down a few of our initial thoughts below.
If there's one thing we weren't expecting a Little Mix album to open with, it's a Blitzkrieg siren. Nevertheless, the surprising intro fades into an effortlessly sassy call for ladies around the world to join their army. Lashings of clicking beats, electronic squiggles and a prowling guitar make the chorus an instant ear-grabber and one we reckon Beyoncé wouldn't cock a snook at. We're serious.
If there's one thing we love about Little Mix it's their guts to put out a forward-thinking lead single. 'Move' might not have clicked with everyone on first listen, but its infectious chest-pumping beats and carefree chorus are a good indication of the evolution they've made for their second collection.
This has second single written all over it. It's a classic R&B midtempo that samples Faure's 'Pavane' to glorious effect. What's more, it hears Little Mix telling their younger selves "to speak up" and "shout out". You won't be able to get this one out of your head. We certainly haven't.
'Nothing Feels Like You'
One of the first things we noticed was a strong whiff of Beyoncé's 'End Of Time', which is no bad thing at all. A massive carnival-worthy chorus mixed with a Lion King-inspired melody makes it one of the most euphoric cuts on the collection.
If there's one track on the album that hasn't made much of an impression it's this one. That said, it's still a notable piece of balladry that allows their voices to soar over a melancholic piano line.
We don't think they could have packed more late-'90s girl group brassiness into this if they tried. The pre-chorus is a twinkling triumph, before they burst into a self-assured anthemic hook.
'These Four Walls'
The girls have highlighted this track as one of their favorites - and after hearing the emotion poured out throughout we can see why. Their tight harmonies are out in force, while the strings elevate it to full heart-tuggery status.
'About The Boy'
Funky guitar riffs and a bouncy chorus give this track its fierce urban sheen. There's a point where we get an almost operatic moment of falsetto from Perrie, which ends with her breathing a sigh of relief. Amazing.
This track is nothing less than incredible. The first 54 seconds is pure Little Mix acapella with harmonies sharper than Simon Cowell's tongue. We had to double check that a classic slice of Destiny's Child R&B hadn't been put on the album by accident. It's that good.
This piano-led slowie is another one for those heartbroken gals out there. Jesy's quivering opening line is a poignant moment as she notes: "I am the diamond you left in the dust."
It's a hazy, rattling piece of American R&B that we just adore. It's not single material, but we imagine it will go down as one of the fans' most favorite album cuts.
'A Different Beat'
As far as finales go, they don't get much bigger than this. A stand-to-attention military snare and calling chants of "yeah-ee-yeah" begin proceedings, before it whips into a hip-shaking anthem backed by an American football marching band.
Yes Little Mix's sound has matured, and yes it's also more R&B than their debut. There's a danger for music journalists to say a record is amazing because they've heard it first, but in all seriousness, this is actually an amazing pop album.
Not only have Little Mix avoided an ill-judged second album, they have produced something that the world stage is screaming out for. It feels like their The Writing's On The Wall moment, which is a massive comparison to make we know, but Little Mix really have pulled it out of the bag.
Little Mix's new album Salute will be released in the UK on November 11.
I need preview snippets ASAP!