Nicola Roberts – Cinderella’s Eyes

The chanted chorus of lead single Beat of My Drum and the charming vocal affectations of follow up Lucky Day promised that Cinderella’s Eyes, Nicola Roberts eagerly anticipated (at least by me) solo record, would be an exciting continuation of Girls Aloud kitchen sink style, genre demolishing pop.

It is and some.

The most awkward Girl Aloud she was always the fifth member of the band in interviews, on stage and in press shots but here (for the first time) she’s in the spotlight sounding comfortable, confident and, most importantly, creative.

Beat of My Drum’s pop genius, ignored by the public at large, where she shouts, raps and wails over Diplo produced bleeps and samples encapsulates everything this record is in under 3 minutes.

Take A Bite is brilliantly bratty and confrontational with a Santigold-esque rumbling guitar and a scouse rap: “Called me a rude ginger bitch, say I bought bigger tits they’re gonna eat all their words they’re talking absolute shit” it oozes venom and cheek.

This bouncy pop template continues on the title track, sounding like the best bits of Marina’s debut, and the techno of Gladiator which has its own Geri Halliwell Look At Me homaging operatic breakdown.

Elsewhere on I she’s at her most confessional, laying bare her dislikes over elastic beats, courtesy of indie darlings Metronomy, she reflects on her time in the band without wallowing in self pity: “I don’t like nasty words they hurt me more than you’ll ever know but don’t think I won’t put on a smiley face and do the show.” It sounds like nothing else being done in pop in 2011, whereas Sticks + Stones’ stripped back simplicity is alarmingly affecting and honest.

It’s not all doom ‘n’ gloom and clattering experimentation however, the 60’s flavour of Lucky Day and Yo-Yo team classic songwriting structure with hooks a plenty and that voice. Where did that come from? Free of Xenomania’s shackles she bellows her way through a surprisingly excellent cover of Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometimes and the most Girls Aloudy track Porcelain Heart sounding nothing like the Nicola we’ve become accustomed to.

In Cinderella’s Eyes Nicola has taken everything great about Girls Aloud and used what she’s learned in the last decade, both musically and personally, to create a brilliantly fearless, witty and honest debut.

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