Little Boots – Shake

Little Boots released one of my favouite albums of 2009, the criminally overlooked Hands, full of sparkling electro-pop gems she’s at her best with HI-NRG disco epics (Remedy, Stuck On Repeat) and her comeback Shake is an absolute monster!

Amazing. With Kylie promising an acoustic album next year (cheers babes, that’s what we all want. Ffs.) Little Boots’ second offering shows signs of being one of 2012’s best pop albums.

Cher Lloyd – Sticks + Stones

Cher’s debut single the universally hated, chart topping, ‘Oh My Darling Clementine’ thieving Swagger Jagger, is pretty much the template for the hater obsessed teen’s first album. Full of ups and downs lyrically, sonically and in quality.

Which is a shame because when she calms down with the defensive, chip on her shoulder annoyances that plague this record she really is onto something that sounds quite special.

Her rapping through out is completely atrocious, canceling out the excellent chorus on opener Grow Up and her forays into dupstep on Dub On The Track and Over The Moon are ill advised and not only jar on first listen but also the 36th.

But when she gets the bouncy brat-pop formula right on What U Want, With Ur Love and Superhero she displays her potential as a great popstar which is further proven on Beautiful People, sounding honest and sincere: “It’s beautiful people like you who get whatever they want and it’s beautiful people like you who suck the life right out of my heart”.

That’s the issue with Sticks + Stones and her career so far. She’s young and doesn’t know who she is, built up to be a Nicki Minaj-esque, Cheryl clone with bags of attitude and ‘swagger’ and then chastised by the media and public for being just that, when she’s an honest and straight forward popstar she shines. The sooner she realises this, the better.

If Girls Aloud were releasing music in 2011…

…it would sound exactly like this. Amazing.

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.

What I’ve been listening to this week.

MNEK – If Truth Be Told

Othello Woolf – The Way I Want (Love You)

Nicola Roberts – Take A Bite


Nicola Roberts – Sticks + Stones

Beautifully sung, startlingly frank and heartbreaking lyrics. This is a masterpiece.

Three amazing videos that debuted while I was at Bestival.