A second album with little of the magic that characterised her debut’s highs.
Fraser McAlpine 2011
Sad news: there is no Boys and Girls on this, Pixie Lott’s second album. Her one real smasheroo moment so far made the most of the singer’s dark, nosey rasp, churning on a delirious one-note chorus and creating a properly improper, devilish, bratty and rude pop song. But it’s a trick she has failed to repeat on Young Foolish Happy, which is odd, because Pixie is clearly working with songwriters who are capable of a finely tuned pastiche or two.
Kiss the Stars, for example, is essentially Firework by Katy Perry; when making Bright Lights (Good Life) Part 2, someone failed to clear the Bruce Hornsby piano sample they wish the song was based on (yep, that one); and the template for All About Tonight is clearly All Of The Songs In The Top Five (circa 2010). For her part, Pixie still sings as if she has wadded her cheeks with cotton wool and now has to retch the fluff out from the back of her throat. That’ll account for the occasionally shonky tuning, too.
Dancing on My Own boasts a Morse code vocal refrain made entirely from glottal stops – it’s like listening to a gag reflex sing an SOS message. And she does it again on the next song, the Sean Kingston-y Birthday, throwing in a bleeped out f-word for good measure. We Just Go On suffers particularly badly from Pixie’s delivery, where she staggers across the line between ‘pained’ and ‘in pain’ with alarming regularity. Then again, if you haven’t got used to that noise by now, you wouldn't be buying a Pixie Lott album in the first place.
The notable exceptions are Nobody Does It Better, which boasts the same kind of beat-enhanced Philly soul as a mid-90s Eternal hit, and You Win, this album’s sophisticated show tune. Oh, and hats off to the producer who managed to make an actual Stevie Wonder harmonica solo happen (over which Pixie has the nerve to giggle) and then chose to give the song in which it appears the title Stevie on the Radio, a pun her non-indie fanbase will possibly miss.