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Eliza Doolittle - 'Rollerblades'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:22 UK time, Saturday, 16 October 2010

Eliza Doolittle

For an emotion we all yearn to feel, as much as we possibly can, light-hearted skippyfun can be very, very troublesome to capture in popular music. Too much sugar, as we all know, rots the teeth, and makes people feel sick. So it's often a good idea to leaven it with a bit of sourness, just to cleanse the palate.

It's a tough balance to strike though. Too much sour is even worse than too much sweet, cos it curdles the whole confection. Ideally, you'd want a song something like this, something which seems to be full of sunlight and happysighs; something which tumbles through your mind like a carrier bag lifted into the afternoon sky by a gentle breeze.

Unfortunately, the lighter and happier you sound, the more you risk annoying people, rather than carrying them along with your infectious giddiness, so it needs to also have some great big clumping clown feet, just to keep it from disappearing in a puff of twee.

(Here's the video. Hey, isn't that Mark Ronson's bike?)

In Eliza's case, the clown feet are provided by the swinging beat, and some slightly barbed lyrics, and the palate-cleansing job is done by the melody, which does takes some delightfully sour turns, for such a sweet song. Maybe the shoes could be a bit bigger or the barbs a smidge sharper, but it's not the kind of song that seems to care whether anyone likes it or not. Which is just as well.

So it's a bit unfair the way people seem to want to hold up a picture of Lily Allen in front of Eliza and tell her off for not being as sharp a madam, lyrically. If there's a comparison to be made with anyone it's someone like Feist or Yael Naim, both of whom seem to prefer a tumble of thoughts which happen to fit the rhythm of the melody to Lily's strident spade-calling.

Plus you could never say that a Lily Allen song is carefree in the way this tries to be. She's much too good at articulating awkward human interactions for that.

SO, where does that leave us? Well, a song like this is basically a butterfly, isn't it? It's nice to have around, but if it gets up your nose, you'll probably want to bat it away and go and sit somewhere where it can't get you.

Three starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

Seven Foot Sounds says: "'Rollerblades' isn't that good but I like it!"

Von Pip Musical Express says: "My Fair Bladey"


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