A classy, if not classic, debut from potential-rich pop newcomer.
Paul Lester 2009-09-02
Pixie Lott is probably the biggest new British female act of the year after La Roux, but of course she couldn’t be more different from the new siren of synth-pop, even if Elly Jackson’s self-titled debut and the first release from 18-year-old Essex girl Lott are both albums about late-teen female heartache.
Turn it Up seems less like it was wrenched from the guts than La Roux, and more like a quality piece of product from an artist who is being primed for worldwide success. She’s no major label cipher, though: like Lady Gaga, Lott has already proved herself as a songwriter, collaborating since her mid-teens with the likes of Teddy Riley and Rodney Jerkins. The songs on Turn it Up do indeed sound as though they could be farmed out to other RnB starlets. That’s a compliment as much as it is a criticism: from the 1960s soul stomp of her number one hit Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh) to new single Boys & Girls with its brassy Mark Ronson-esque production, some of the material here lacks character. Similarly, the titles – Nothing Compares, Hold Me in Your Arms – feel familiar, suggesting Lott is less pop literate than she is over-reliant on cliché.
And yet she has tremendous promise. Cry Me Out, already earmarked as the third single, is a superb ballad, as affecting as it is accomplished. From its opening line – “I get your emails, you just don’t get females, now do you?” – it’s witty and wise, a master class in how to put contemporary language to the service of a sublime melody.
You can’t fault her voice, either, an instrument capable of cooing softly or belting out a ballad. Her ambitions are obvious: the former Italia Conti stage-school kid isn’t going to be a behind-the-scenes tunesmith-for-hire, and she isn’t just a high-street honey with a powerful, flexible voice. A writer, singer and dancer, she’s one of those all-round types that America regularly exports, and her intention is to be a British version of Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey or Beyoncé.
Right now, though, her talents are spread a little thin. Turn it Up is classy, if not a classic – but there’s no denying Lott’s potential.