2008 has been pretty dire for Australian pop music. There has been the occasional catchy single but no local act has managed to release a consistently excellent album. That is until CC Martini's wicked debut hit stores last Saturday. I loved both of CC's singles but even the fabulousness of "Champagne Taste" and "Double Dutch" couldn't prepare me for this exhilarating rollercoaster ride. "All The Way" is a big, brash gulp of fresh air - exactly the shot in the arm the local scene needed. The album is a crazy blend of hip hop, rock and pop expertly held together by CC's amusing lyrics and fierce attitude. Think Princess Superstar or Betty Boo (if you're old and gay) crossed with Gwen Stefani and you get some idea of the sheer fun that's in store for you. I don't want to raise expectations to an unrealistic level because "All The Way" does have its flaws. The production is slightly repetitive and the whole affair is about as shallow as an empty swimming pool. CC does throw in the occasional personal song but the subject matter rarely strays from dancing, fucking and taking drugs - which doesn't bother me in the slightest. It just makes "All The Way" the perfect album to play while you're getting ready to hit the town on a Saturday night! Here's my track by track review of CC's stunning opus:
Juicy Fruit - Intro
An 8 second blurb about bubblegum. Not essential listening!
Double Dutch - 9.5/10
I've already written about my love for the album's second single but "Double Dutch" just gets better with each listen. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Toni Basil and Gwen Stefani, this gem sounds like the twisted sister of "Hollaback Girl" only with better lyrics and a crunchy guitar hook. In a perfect world this would have been a huge crossover hit for CC but radio ignored it and "Double Dutch" sank without a trace. Thankfully, the song is developing a strong cult following - mostly due to the classy video and CC's helpful hints about moisturising. An irresistible party anthem and the perfect album opener.
Dirty Thoughts - 10/10
This filthy ditty is the best song on the album and the obvious choice for the next single. CC has really outdone herself on this modern trash classic. "Dirty Thoughts" boasts a great chorus, a series of catchy hooks and the funniest lyrics in recent memory. In the year's least surprising revelation, CC begins the song by confessing that she has a dirty mind before going on to prove it with classy lines like "come on take off those shades so I can see your pretty face, now put them lips to my thighs so I can give you a taste" and my personal favourite "I've been to all girls boarding schools for six years or more, no matter what the nuns taught me I still act like a whore!" CC's partner in crime, Tiffany Kommedal, cameos on the chorus before "Dirty Thoughts" surprises again with an unexpected dance breakdown. This is a truly breathtaking hip hop/pop/dance concoction. If you're not sure about buying the whole album, download this from iTunes as a sneak peak. I guarantee you wont be disappointed. Fingers crossed this is eventually a single because I can only imagine how amazing the film clip would be. I'll even volunteer my services to guest star as one of CC's sleazy gay conquests!
Champagne Taste - 8.5/10
"Champagne Taste" was a very brave way of introducing the world to CC Martini. A white woman from Australia rapping about crashing parties and dealing pot? The whole thing should have been an embarrassing disaster but she somehow pulls it off. The witty lyrics are instantly quotable and CC's signature blend of musical genres is very much apparent. "Champagne Taste" still sounds fresh and CC's honesty remains hugely endearing but coming after "Double Dutch" and "Dirty Thoughts" on the tracklist does the song no favours. The production lacks the bite of those anthems and hearing exactly the same guitar riff on the album's first three songs is slightly jarring. However, in the grand scheme of things, that's a pretty minor qualm. After all, this is an anthem to live by. Who hasn't had "champagne taste on a minimum wage" at one point or another?
I See You - 8.5/10
Now this is an unexpected delight. CC puts her mad rapping skillz aside for a moment to sing a sweet tune about finding love on the dancefloor. "I See You" is one of the most traditional pop songs on the album and it provides a much needed respite from the electro craziness that comes before it. In the same way that "Big Girls Don't Cry" helped provide some musical balance to "The Dutchess", "I See You" reveals a completely different side to CC. For starters, I had no idea she could actually sing! Her voice really suits moody mid-tempo pop and I'd love for CC to explore this path in the future. A great change of pace.
Candy - 7/10
After an almost faultless beginning, "Candy" is the first track on "All The Way" that could possibly be described as filler - if you were an overly critical dickhead. "Candy" might be CC by the numbers but it's still a huge improvement on the vast majority of hits you'll hear on the radio. Another upbeat mash of hip hop and pop, this bouncy jam is great fun but suffers from completely nonsensical lyrics like "you know she knows the so with the so and so". I have no idea what the fuck CC is on about but it sure is catchy. A potential grower.
Rack It Up - 8/10
CC introduces "Rack It Up" with a completely unconvincing warning about drug use. Who does she think she's kidding? I bet CC sleeps with a crack pipe and a cheap Bic lighter under her pillow. Despite the initial lameness, "Rack It Up" turns out to be one the best drug anthems in recent memory despite its apparent anti-drug message. If the gays can develop a GBH drinking game around Dannii's "Coconut", the mind boggles what classy lyrics like "rack it up rack it up, stick it up your nose" will inspire! I really like the production on this despite the slightly overbearing guitar. I particularly love the second half of the song when CC stops rapping and starts to sing. An anthem best enjoyed with a credit card in one hand and a rolled $20 note in the other.
Recipe - 6/10
Despite a killer chorus and some wonderfully eccentric musical flourishes, "Recipe" never really seems to click. The lyrics are as amusing as ever (I love it when CC calls her friend in Costa Rica) but the song has no real direction and the production is all over the place. However my biggest gripe is the unwelcome emergence of CC's "rap voice". Despite her self-proclaimed title as the "Australian princess of hip hop", CC doesn't really rap in the traditional sense. She just kind of talks her way through songs in a completely normal Australian accent. I don't mean that as a criticism - it's part of what makes CC so unique and endearing. Hence my surprise when she unexpectedly starts to sound like Missy Elliot half way through "Recipe". Thankfully, it's only a momentary blip!
Everything - 10/10
I inferred earlier that "All The Way" isn't a particularly deep and meaningful album but it does have its fair share of personal moments. "Everything" charts CC's journey from a disillusioned bum aimlessly wading through her 20s to her re-birth as a budding pop superstar. You don't need to be on CC's path to identify with her lyrics. Anyone who hasn't achieved what they set out to but still keeps on trying will appreciate her message. "Everything" speaks to me on so many levels but it isn't one of those god awful empowerment anthems. CC's too real for that shit! In fact, if you don't obsess over lyrics, you'd probably think this was just another urban jam about bling. I love the production on "Everything". CC's vocal channels Gwen Stefani and the strings are a great touch. An unexpected triumph.
Brotha's Party - 7.5/10
A catchy, if unremarkable, jam about CC's adventures at her... erm, brotha's party! This is great fun but it doesn't introduce anything new into the mix, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. That familiar guitar riff re-appears but it works in the context of the song and CC's lyrics never disappointment. I particularly love the "I didn't mean to hurt nobody" refrain and the unexpectedly demure conclusion to the story! Tiffany Kommedal makes another welcome appearance. When is that fabulous bitch going to get her own record deal?
Little Black Book - 8/10
I've always thought that trust was highly overrated. By the second date, I've usually run a credit check and searched through every unlocked drawer! Needless to say, I completely approve of CC's anthem about checking up on your boyfriend. I'm surprised she stops at going through his phone, e-mails and palm pilot after finding all that damning evidence. I'd be hiring private investigators and calling in the CSI team for DNA analysis! "Little Black Book" boasts some of CC's best lyrics and a wicked beat. The moral of the story? Don't fuck with CC!
Sick Of It - 7/10
"Sick Of It" covers similar territory to Pink's "Leave Me Alone (I'm Lonely)" - a loud plea for breathing space in a relationship. This is CC on auto-pilot but the subject matter is universal and the lyrics are typically amusing. My favourite rhyme is this classy gem: "I get in moods for no apparent reason too bad, get my skirt around my ankles I'd forget I was mad!" CC Martini - poet and philosopher.
Be The One - 10/10
Just I when I thought CC had ran out of surprises, she finishes "All The Way" with an unexpectedly tender mid-tempo ballad. "Be The One" is an exquisite slice of guitar pop that picks up where the brilliant "I See You" left off. However, this time around the dark intensity has been replaced with a sweetness and vulnerability that I didn't think CC was capable of. In you need any further proof that CC Martini is one of the most promising local acts in many a year, this is it. "All The Way" really is a breathtaking debut. It seems only appropriate that the album ends the way it began - on a high note.