Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Little Boots - A Little Boring?

I was originally going to call this post "The Poor Man's Kylie" but I think that's a bigger compliment than Little Boots deserves. For even at her lowest ebb, Kylie has never put her name to anything as dull and lifeless as "Hands". In fact, Little Boots' debut is perhaps the most brightly polished turd in recent musical history. At first glance, the package is pretty hard to resist. Little Boots has an amazing image, her cover art exudes cool and the electro beats flow with surgical precision. All that's missing is a decent vocalist, some good songs and a little bit of heart. Don't be fooled by the pretty pictures and dazzling lights - "Hands" is all style and no substance.

Despite my general misgivings about the album, there are a couple of highlights. The Greg Kurstin produced lead single doesn't quite live up to the deafening hype but "New In Town" is still a catchy electro anthem with a punchy little chorus. Unfortunately, it sticks out like a boner on a nudist beach among all the other toothless tracks. "Remedy" is probably the best of the rest. With a bit of a polish it could probably pass for a Saturdays' B-Side. I'm also rather partial to "Hearts Collide", which simultaneously rips off Sophie Ellis Bexter's "Another Day" and Cut Copy's "Hearts On Fire". It's not very original but Richard Stannard knows his way around a chorus and this is one of the few tracks that has a discernible hook. The only other track I've bothered to keep on my Ipod is the embarrassing but fun "Tune Of My Heart". It's by far the worst song Pascal Gabriel has ever put his name to but a little more of this cheese would have at least dragged the album into 'so bad it's good' territory.

As for the rest of "Hands", it's incredibly bland and disappointing. "Mathematics" is typically pointless. It's just a string of meaningless words set to an anonymous beat. There's no emotion or intelligence behind it. The same goes for the achingly pretentious "Ghosts" and the incredibly dreary "No Brakes". Things then go from bad to worse on "Symmetry". The track begins promisingly but ultimately reveals itself to be a rather feeble Depeche Mode knock off, while "Meddle" and "Click" are both songs in search of a chorus and melody. I really wanted to like "Earthquake" because it so desperately tries to imitate Kylie but the lyrics are abstract to the point of being ridiculous. However, as dire as those lyrics are, they have nothing on the hideous title track. I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry when Little Boots earnestly mused "she went up to the heavens about quarter past eleven" before singing some rubbish about putting her broken heart back together with sticky tape. Honestly, it makes Lady GaGa's legendary"bluffin' with my muffin" rhyme sound like Shakespeare! These are the empty shells of great pop songs. The production is uniformly excellent the album has no guts and more unforgivably, no soul.

So what the hell went wrong? The album features the who's who of hot producers from Greg Kurstin to RedOne. Ultimately, the blame has to lie with Little Boots. She clearly needs to run not walk to the Cathy Dennis school of songwriting to learn the importance of a decent chorus. A better solution would be leaving songwriting duties in more capable hands because it's clearly not her forte. A bigger obstacle for Little Boots, and one that's much harder to overcome, is her voice. I'm a firm believer that you don't need a huge set of pipes to be a good pop star but Little Boots makes Annie sound like Maria Callas. She basically talks her way through songs in an increasingly grating monotone. I think this is indicative of a bigger issue - her total and utter lack of charisma and personality. Little Boots is a blank sheet. Any of these songs could have appeared on any number of pop albums and probably would have sounded a lot better for it. She's not as fun as Kylie, as edgy as Lady GaGa or as clever as Robyn. What exactly is Little Boots' contribution to pop music?

This week "Hands" plummets from #5 to #40 on the UK albums chart. I guess word of mouth is starting to spread.

17 comments:

Tommy said...

Glad I'm not the only not getting the hype. I've had people rave to me about her album, but after hearing it, the songs themselves just sound like repetitive tracks that don't seem to go anywhere or, like you said, have anything resembling the structure of a pop song. I'm guessing that she probably wasn't aiming for that in the first place, but instead for something between a conventional pop album and an edgy electronic record. I just don't think there's enough here to make it a good example of either of those, much less compelling enough on it's own, IMO.

Jay said...

I don't see the appeal of these bland electrobints - of course, some fat exec says they are the next big thing so do NME and Q therefore everyone jumps on board the bandwagon...

John said...

I'm kind of stunned at the moment. I know our similar likes and dislikes are hit or miss, but I am really loving this CD. "Symmetry" is a great throwback track, with Phil Oakley's voice working its magic on the track, and "Remedy" could possibly be the track that breaks this album in the US.

tidusin said...

I think it's a fun, well-executed album, with easy songs to dance (and sing) to. Sometimes is that simplicity what brings fresh and fun music, not trying to sound (musically and as a person) like doing something "clever and world-changing".

Justin said...

I love her album. It's one of my faves of 2009 so far, lol.

Paul said...

whereas i totally don't get La Roux (La Poo) or Lady BlahBlah, clearly the rest of the world does and i am in a minority. I do love Little Boots though and it is one of my fave albums this year already :S There's no accounting for taste :P

Parker said...

I love her. I think the only part I agree on this post are the tags.

tommie said...

I really could care less about this bitch. Just another bland elekraw chick who'll be gone by her second album.

bubu said...

you hate hypes. period.
i like little boots' cd although i have the feel it could have been much better.
i am waiting for la roux to leak and then i'll choose.

Anonymous said...

Little Boots
La Roux
Florence and the Machine
Pixie Lott
Lady Gaga
Ladyhawke

Has anyone actually seen these ever in the same room together? I swear they are the same person!! I can't tell 'em apart? Bland bland bland...

Jump! said...

Mike,

I am shocked by your review. Its well thought out, insightful and pretty much correct. Where is the use of "hooker" "whore" or "slut"? Hmmmm, good review but really the caliber of trash talk I would expect. You better use the "c" word a couple of times uf you want this piece of cheap ass to come back and visit your blog.

Brian

Aaron said...

Well, I've not heard the album yet - and I can't say i've been terribly compelled to - until a few days ago - So i'll probably give it a listen soon - but your review has opened my eyes a bit!

h said...

I was disappointed with the album. Of course there are no hideously awful songs, but most of them seem like filler-unfinished songs rather than stand-out music. I do like LadyHawke more.

Anonymous said...

I was beginning to think that I was the only one who thought this album was rubbish! The hype and styling has been superbly executed but there is just no substance.

Little Boots' voice is bland and unimpressive. She often sounds like she's struggling, nothing special, very mediocre.

Moogaboo said...

I really like "Stuck on Repeat," it has the kind of chorus I love to sing over and over (to myself, alone in a darkened room), but it's all I like from her.

Anonymous said...

i'll just add that she does most certainly know how to work a tenori-on, a stylophone and a grand piano simultaneously. Her album may be a tad lacklustre, but her live performances are intriguing, especially when she performed 'Meddle' on Jools Holland.

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