A couple of weeks ago I interviewed Lolene and fell in love. She's smart, funny and could probably talk under water with a mouth gag. As much as I like her, I still didn't know what to expect when an advance copy of "The Electrick Hotel" unexpectedly arrived in my mailbox. "Sexy People" is a guilty pleasure but hardly career launching material. "Rich (Fake It Til You Make It)" - her official first single - is a massive step forward but I still wondered if she could keep it up for a whole album. The answer is a big, loud HELL YES. "The Electrick Hotel" is currently locked in a tight three way battle with "Superficial" (don't judge me!) and "Animal" for 2010's best pop album. This is a hugely accomplished set of polished gems that showcases Lolene's impressive versatility and uncanny knack for writing a catchy chorus. She would probably slap me for bringing up Lady Gaga but "The Electrick Hotel" is every bit as instant and memorable as "The Fame". In fact, if anything, it's more consistent and doesn't suffer from that album's suffocating self-importance. Lolene's gift is her effortless ability to bring the fun. Her music is loud, bright and larger than life. Pop music has a new leading lady. Here is my track by track review:
Is it wrong to be obsessed with an intro? I love that she's carried the hotel theme through album and the sentence "I'm Lolene and ch-ch-checkin' in!" is already iconic in my mind and the music is fabulous. I actually wish she had turned this into a song. It would have been fucking hot.
The world's first taste of Lolene is a hot club track but it really misrepresents her sound. That said, I'd be lying to say that I haven't played "Sexy People" several hundred times - usually when I'm drunk and making a spectacle of myself. But it is that kind of song. Trashy fun for inebriated gays and fag hags. Interestingly, this was produced by Christopher Rojas who is fast becoming one of my faves. Not only did he contribute songs to Vanessa Hudgen's underrated "Identified" album but is featured on holy Heidi's era defining masterpiece "Superficial". Class.
Rich (Fake It Til You Make It)
From low brow club filth to a radio ready shot of pure pop, Lolene taps into a more commercial sound for her official debut single. I've been obsessed with "Rich" since it first leaked, so I'm rather surprised to say that it's not my favourite song on the album. It is, however, a great single choice. Everyone can identify with the fun lyrics and I just know Lolene is going to bring it in the video clip. The Messengers (Justin Bieber, Chris Brown etc) are super hot right now and their production sounds fresh and very current. Fingers crossed it turns out to be a massive hit.
This amazing 80s inspired pop anthem probably just nudges past "Radio" and "For The Record" as my favourite track on the album. It's just so ridiculously over the top and irresistibly catchy. The chorus is monstrous and you can almost see the wind machines and elaborate costumes that will inevitably feature in the video. Moreover, it reminds me of my second favourite Sheena Easton song - 1985's brilliant "Young Lions". Somebody hurry up make a mash-up! Interestingly, "Lionheart" was co-written by Sheppard Solomon whose previous credits include Paris Hilton's amazing "Nothing In This World", Natalie Imbruglia's career highlight "Shiver" and Britney's "Touch Of My Hand". So you know it's gonna be quality. Well, with the exception of that last song.
I'm usually wary when dance divas sing ballads. It can go horribly wrong but "Ordinary Girl" is a nice change of pace with cute lyrics about having the strength to not fit in. As a friend of mine correctly pointed out, it has a touch of Orianthi about it but there are worse people to be compared to. I guess. The biggest surprise is Lolene's voice, which has more strength than I would have previously given it credit for. It seems legendary producer Nellee Hooper finally recovered from working with Australia's next superstar @m8er to produce this lovely ballad.
Under The Bus (feat. Sam Sparro)
Sam Sparro usually makes me want to vomit and castrate myself simultaneously so it's really saying something when I describe this duet as bearable. Sam's production is particularly hot. Love the sample.
Lolene calls room service for a hot guy, a plate of love, an owl, a zebra, a sewing kit to mend a broken heart and a bottle of fabulous. Girlfriend needs to share her drugs!
Guitars suddenly emerge for this hot slice of pop-rock. When I say that "Carousel" reminds me of Ashlee Simpson crossed with Hilary Duff, I mean it as a massive compliment. Sure, the production is edgier and Lolene has more attitude than both of those musical heavyweights put together but there is something very "Bittersweet World" about the song. And it suits pop's hottest new diva superbly. "Carousel" should be in the running for a future single. It's catchy as fuck and I can imagine radio lapping it up.
Ok, I've changed my mind. This is my equal favourite track along with "Lionheart". I'm sure some people will write "Radio" off as too soft and pretty for today's disco stick riding pop crowd but I love the Kylie-esque sweetness of "Radio". The lyrics are unbearably cute ("tune into me every day, I'm that hit you want to play") and the synths are straight outta "Neon Nights". This was co-produced by the dude behind Cobra Starship and, amusingly, Jeffre Star. Dannii needs to hire these guys for her next album because this shit is seriously amazing!
Die Without Love
For an edgier dance sound, check out the club anthem in waiting "Die Without Love". This jam has summer floorfiller written all over it. I love the feelgood lyrics and the beats come thick and fast. By this stage I was already prepared to declare "The Electrick Hotel" a masterpiece but it just keeps on getting better. Check out the next track for proof.
For The Record
I've changed my mind again! "For The Record" is every bit as brilliant as "Radio" and "Lionheart". This is the track Lolene wrote with my lovely Luciana, Nick Clow and Richard Vission (ie. the team who brought you "I Like That") and it's completely fucking amazing. In fact, it's probably the best song Luci has penned for another artist with the possible exception Kylie's "Cupid Boy". The heavy club beats suit Lolene perfectly and the shouted verses are vintage Luciana. Combine that with a thunderous chorus and cool lyrics and you have one of 2010's hottest club tunes. This has to be a single!
Lolene's streak of killer tracks had to end eventually and "Bang Bang" is the closest thing to filler on "The Electrick Hotel". It's not bad by any means - just a bit of a let down after all the hotness that came before it. However, it does boast my favourite lyric on the album: "I ain't Betty. I ain't doin' the do!" Anyone who name checks Ms Boo is clearly worthy of our love and admiration.
Now this is fucking camp. "Limousine" reminds me of a cross between Aretha's "Freeway Of Love" and Natalie Cole's "Pink Cadillac". Yes, it's that GAY. This song basically sums of the difference between Lolene and Gaga. The latter would never let her hair down enough to sing something as irreverent and fun as this. "Driver turn the system up for me, OMG it's even got a jacuzzi!" Awesome.
"Fucked Up" brings an unusual reggae/ska flavour to "The Electrick Hotel". I know Lolene is vehemently opposed to comparing female pop singers but it's an easy reference point for the uninitiated to say that this has more than a whiff of Gwen Stefani about it. I love the shouty chorus and bitter lyrics. The piano outro is also very cool. Lolene wasn't exaggerating when she told me that she dabbled in a bit of everything on the album. I'm just stunned that all her risks paid off. Music nerds will be interested to note that "Fucked Up" was produced by Oak, who recently crafted "Hands Tied" for the legendary and always age appropriate Toni Braxton.
The album closes on a high with this stunning ballad. "Beautiful Disaster" is pretty in a Ryan Tedder gone electro kind of way. Lolene doesn't have the biggest voice in pop music but she does have a distinctive one and knows how to get the most out of it. This kind of reminds me of Britney at her least annoying - see "Everytime" or "Unusual You". It's very pretty and the lyrics are genuinely touching. The perfect calling card for 2010's hottest new talent.