wears the trousers magazine

pixie lott: turn it up (2009)
September 16, 2009, 8:49 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,


Pixie Lott
Turn It Up ••

The last Wears The Trousers knew, nine year old girls who are fond of Disney movies, gel pens, and giving their friends makeovers (to look like Disney characters, using gel pens) had to save for a solemn month to buy a fancy scrunchie, so in these credit-crunched times it seems unlikely that they alone could be responsible for getting Pixie Lott to the top of the singles chart repeatedly (once with her debut ‘Mama Do’ and again with current single ‘Boys & Girls’). Barely out of this demographic herself, Lott has collaborated with various pop heavyweights to produce her first album, Turn It Up, a poppy R&B affair destined to provide gyms across the country with a pleasanter essence wafting along the airwaves than the smell of middle class body-consciousness and sweaty shorts.

Some may rightly wish to exit the room screaming at the very label ‘English R&B’, since it’s a genre that has been much abused (mentioning no names *cough* Craig David), if not downright oxymoronic. But this is a record which wears its Mariah Carey influences proudly on its spangly crop top, so there’s more than a slight American vibe to it all – the one exception being the meticulously-executed apparent decision to pronounce all ‘th’-sounds with their more streetwise, urban cousin ‘v’, as in “wivout you I never would be as strong”. And on the subject of vocal bugbears, it would be wrong not to mention the title track’s unforgivable chorus of “I won’t be waiting, anticipating for the phone”. Surely any self-respecting version of Microsoft Word would have underlined that right away in a wobbly shame-green?

The spectre of Carey is writ large in every track, from production to harmonies to lyrics to tempo, but paying extended-bordering-on-libellous homage to one’s musical heroes never did certain acts any harm (Oasis, anyone?), so it’s a point best noted and moved on from. Lott is a singer-songwriter-dancer-entertainer who, according to her website, “loves Mariah for the vocals and Britney for the moves and showmanship”, and sure enough her videos are reminiscent of old-school Ms Spears, with the occasional visual gag to reassure us all she hasn’t disappeared entirely up her own (skinny white) behind. Still, she’s unlikely to be allocated a cherished space in the mainstream media’s circle of Quirky and Edgy Pop Women with couplets such as “I got your emails / You just don’t get females”. (Admittedly, La Roux’s Elly Jackson also wavers on such lyrical lows, but she at least has the decency to detract from this shortcoming with an imaginative ‘Something About Mary’-inspired hairdo.) But since the kind of people at whom this record is presumably aimed are either too young to savour the fine wine of rich poetic imagery, or too busy trying to do fifty body crunches without vomiting, such criticism may well be by the by.

There are some moments on the album which, without exaggeration, ought to be outlawed – the opening seconds of ‘Gravity’ being a prime offender with its dated, Cher-style voice alteration. Ditto the generic masculine shouts in the background to ‘Turn It Up’, which, if they weren’t so incongruously grafted in, would make one think Lott had just trodden on the toes of the entire New York Yankees squad while pushing in the queue for the bar. The ticking clock in the background to the bridge is a nauseatingly cheesetastic touch, apparently intended to emphasise the “healing thing called time” but instead makes the expectation of a bomb not seem like such a bad idea after all.

That said, there is some solid evidence of Lott’s songwriting ability; ‘Bandaid’ is as good a pop song as ever the likes of Sugababes put out, with a neat acoustic guitar and string combination, a pleasing gospel-pop chorus and a reggae-tinged controlled wig out at the end. For all its grave production sins, the title track is a very catchy number with an ultimately positive message for its young listeners. The two singles are perfect slices of accessible MOR pop, and ‘Here We Go Again’ is a simple yet melodically rewarding track that would probably work very well live, pared down to an acoustic guitar and her Carey-esque warbles. According to the website, Lott “wants to keep writing songs, including a few that change people’s lives.” So, no pressure then. The thought of her continued songwriting career isn’t the most depressing idea – in terms of musical talent it’s probably a carbon-neutral enterprise – though if she wants to change lives it’s probably imperative she change producers first.

Katy Knight
UK release date: 14/09/09; www.myspace.com/pixielott

‘Mama Do’

‘Boys & Girls’


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[…] The xx – xx [Elyse Cain 17/8] 42 Pixie Lott – Turn It Up [Katy Knight 16/9] 43 Gemma Ray – Lights Out Zoltar! [Charlotte Richardson Andrews 20/8] 44 […]

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