wears the trousers magazine


little boots: hands (2009)
June 8, 2009, 10:52 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , , ,

untitled

Little Boots
Hands •••½
679 / Atlantic

This debut solo album from former Dead Disco frontwoman Victoria Hesketh has been a long time coming. From the excited mutterings over ‘Stuck On Repeat’ 18 months ago to topping the BBC Sound of 2009 poll and beyond, she has been all over the music press with relatively little new material provided to support the quickly amassing hype. With the eventual release of first ‘proper’ single ‘New In Town’ a couple of weeks ago, it seemed that interest in Little Boots may have waned somewhat as the song landed disappointingly outside of the top 10.

Many a heart may have sank upon first hearing its opening Goldfrappian synth stabs – especially as there had been many lazy, incorrect comparisons made between the two already, even about the outright disco of ‘Stuck On Repeat’ – but it’s hard not to enjoy ‘New In Town’; hitting the chorus within the 50 second mark, it firmly works its hooks into your head, and ‘New In Town’ is far from being the only track tailored for a snappy appeal. Immediacy is the modus operandi of Hands, and the album makes no apologies for it. Should it have to? Perhaps things looked like they were going to be edgier, but before she’d even released her first single Hesketh had got to a level where the question was always a matter of shifting units as well as artistic vision. That said, the tracks that got Hesketh her ‘one to watch’ reputation (‘Stuck On Repeat’, ‘Meddle’, ‘Mathematics’) don’t sound out of place on an album of such pop credentials. 

It is quite an achievement for an artist to cover the ground between the comparatively sparse ‘Click’, with its scattered drums and electric fuzz, to the all-out, hands-in-the-air, don’t-bore-us-get-to-the-chorus pop-crux of Hands, ‘Remedy’, and Hesketh sounds committed at all times. Elsewhere, ‘Earthquake’ kicks off with what seems to be an oscillator building up to the brink of explosion; then, when everything does come crashing in, it’s full-on, stadium-sized pop. Again, the chorus is reached well within a minute, and at one point the song appears to come to a close only to burst back in again, just to make sure you’ll remember it. ‘Hearts Collide’ has the same shimmery pull as Kylie Minogue’s ‘Love At First Sight’, and it tells a similar story of finding love when you’re not looking for it.

It’s Hesketh’s malleability, however, that may be working against her. Is this really the album she wanted to make? On some of the glossier moments on Hands, it’s hard to shift the nagging image of Hesketh being tweaked, polished and styled a little too much by the record label – but not entirely against her will. This makes it difficult to grasp what Little Boots actually is and how she can progress. Whereas, musically, Hands succeeds where recently Kylie keeps failing, and is certainly more consistent than Lady Gaga’s The Fame, Kylie still has the heritage and Gaga keeps pushing her image further and further. If there’s nothing beyond well-produced, catchy music to buy into, perhaps there’s nothing to distract from the stigma attached to pop.

It’s a fallacy that pop is easy to write though, and despite often veering into lyrical clichés Hands is full of incredibly well written music however you choose to approach it. Perhaps the best way to enjoy it is to stop contextualising and wondering about the back story and just let it do what it was made to do: bring you guilt-free sonic pleasure.

Daniel Clatworthy
UK release date: 08/06/09; www.myspace.com/littlebootsmusic

 

‘New In Town’

Hands has been a long time coming. ‘Stuck On Repeat’ set off the excited mutterings a couple years ago, and in the following months the word-of-mouth hype started to build. At the beginning of this year she topped the BBC Sound of 2009 poll. She was all over the press, but no new material was provided to support the hype. With the eventual release of the first proper single ‘New In Town’, it seemed interest in Little Boots may have waned.

Many a heart may have sunk upon hearing it’s opening Goldfrapp synth stabs, especially as there had been many lazy, incorrect comparisons made between the two already – even about the downright disco of ‘Stuck On Repeat’. But it’s hard not to enjoy ‘New In Town’. It hits the chorus within the 50 second mark it firmly works its hooks into your head.

It’s far from being the only track tailored for a snappy appeal. ‘Earthquake’ kicks off with the what seems to be an oscillator building up to the brink of explosion. When everything does come crashing in, it’s full-on ‘stadium pop’. Again the chorus is reached well within one minute. At one point the song appears to come to a close, only to burst back in again, just to make sure you’ll remember it. Hearts Collide has the same shimmery pull as Kylie’s ‘Love At First Sight’ as it tells a similar story of finding love when you’re not looking for it.

Immediacy is the MO of Hands and it makes no apologies for it. Should it have to? Perhaps things looked like they were going to be edgier; but before even releasing anything, Little Boots got to a level where it’s a question of shifting units as well as artistic vision. That said, the tracks that got Little Boots her ‘one to watch’ reputation (Stuck On Repeat, Meddle, Mathematics) don’t sound out of place on an album of such pop credentials. It is quite an achievement for an artist to cover the ground between from the comparatively sparce ‘Click’ – with its scattered drums and electric fuzz – to the all-out, hands-in-the-air, don’t-bore-us-get-to-the-chorus pop-crux of Hands: ‘Remedy’, sounding committed at all times.

It’s Little Boots’s malleability however that may be working against her. Is this really the album she wanted to make? On some of the glossier moments on Hands, it’s hard to shift the nagging image of Little Boots being tweaked, polished and styled a little too much by the record label – but not entirely against her will. This makes it difficult to grasp what Little Boots actually is and how she can progress. Whereas musically Hands succeeds where recently Kylie keeps failing, and it is more consistent than Lady Gaga’s The Fame, Kylie still has the heritage and Lady Gaga keeps pushing her image further and further. If there’s nothing beyond well-produced, catchy music to buy into, perhaps there’s nothing to distract from the stigma attached to pop.

It’s a fallacy that pop is easy to write though and, although lyrically often veering into cliché, Hands is full of incredibly written music however you choose to approach it. The best way to enjoy it is to stop contextualising it and wondering about the back story – and just let it do what it was made to do: bring you sonic pleasure as it lodges itself firmly in your brain.

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[…] Marit Bergman – The Tear Collector [Robbie de Santos 19/5] 22 Little Boots – Hands [Daniel Clatworthy 8/6] 23 The Lovely Eggs – If You Were Fruit [Charlotte Richardson Andrews […]

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