Zoë Badwi's album has been out for a while now but as Sirens' biggest (and possibly only) fan, I feel it's my duty to preach the virtues of this wondrous listening experience to anyone who will listen. There's another reason why this project is close to my heart. A long time ago in galaxy far, far away I did some work for Neon Records and one of my first tasks was putting together digital promos for Zoë's early club hits like "Don't Wan'cha", which didn't make the album, and "In The Moment", which did. Since then I've followed the blond bombshell's career closely and know how much hard work has gone into this extremely impressive album. Here is my track by track review:
Zoë's irresistible commercial breakthrough needs no introduction. Co-written by legendary three-hit wonder Amy Pearson, the uplifting dance anthem rocketed into the national top 10 and ruled the airwaves for months. Everything about this is perfect, from the uplifting lyrics to Denzal Park's perky production. It was always going to be hard to duplicate the magic but a couple of tunes come close.
Until You're Over Me
I love DNA. The songwriters behind Marvin Priest's "Own This Club" - among other hits - team up with the omnipresent Amy Pearson to create another epic floorfiller. This is being bandied about as the album's next single but I'm not convinced it's the right choice. "Until You're Over Me" is lovely (and I've always had a soft spot for bittersweet dance music) but it's a bit too soft and pretty for commercial radio.
This fucking song could survive a nuclear war. Three years after it was released, I still hear "Release Me" every time I go out. And that's the way I like it. The TV Rock-produced anthem is insidiously catchy and easy to sing along to while inebriated making it a true Oxford street classic.
Carry Me Home
Zoë's cover of Sarah Connor's "Carry Me Home" is the kind of classy, mid-tempo electronica that rarely gets made in this country. The song's thoughtful dance overhaul works a treat and it has a rich, dreamy quality that sets it apart from the usual club fare. I still don't get the video but you can't have everything.
Time to come clean. I never liked this clumsy pop tune and only pretended to be mildly enthusiastic to avoid offending anyone. Sorry!
Never Let You Go
I swear Amy Pearson's butterfingers are all over this album. The British sex symbol has songwriting credits on 8 of the 12 tracks. Unfortunately, this is easily her worst contribution. "Never Let You Go" isn't awful. It's just kind of there. The lyrics are generic and Zoë inexplicably sounds like Alison Goldfrapp with a head cold. Only slightly better than "Accidents Happen".
After a couple of underwhelming cuts, the album bounces back on track with this killer anthem. Another DNA production, "Reckless" is furiously upbeat and extremely catchy. I love the chorus and sentiment of the lyrics. This sounds radio ready and should be a strong contender for the LP's next single.
One Step Behind
This is great too! I love the spacey production - courtesy of Grant Smillie and Nordean - and the quirky sound palette. It's thematically odd but I'm twisted so I kind of like that. From what I can tell "One Step Behind" is a darkly romantic stalker anthem. Play this loud the next time you're having a Single White Female moment!
In The Moment (Denzal Park Edit)
I love "In The Moment" but the original trance-tastic version is infinitely superior. Download that from iTunes instead and brace yourself for the magic of this fabulous 90s flashback.
Zoë Badwi tackling a pared-back ballad is like hearing Barbra Streisand experiment with death metal. Somewhat disconcerting. It took me a couple of listens to wrap my head around this startling development but ultimately "Believe You" is as satisfying as a freshly cooked cheesy nugget. Exquisite!
And the award for my favourite song on the album goes to "Relapse". If Nicki French covered ABBA the resulting masterpiece would struggle to be as camp as this piping hot mess. On an album heavy with sleek floorfillers, this poptastic gem stands out like a sore thumb. In a good way. This would be my choice for the next single. It's big, dumb fun that gets stuck in your head after one listen. I'm obsessed.
The Other Side
Happily, "Zoë" ends on a high note. "The Other Side" covers similar lyrical ground to "Freefallin'" - it's about moving forward with your life - but it has a distinctly darker edge. I like the brooding production and understated chorus. This is further proof of Zoë's growing versatility and depth as an artist.