A delightful debut full of first-crush excitement.
Natalie Shaw 2011
Bubblegum pop isn’t an easy niche to fall into. If you lack charisma as a pop star, you’ll drop straight into the vortex set out by misers and cynics; while if you’re shy of submitting to the humour involved, you’ll be fed to the lions. Lyrically, there’s another hurdle – the all-consuming obsession of teen love can easily come off bereft of personality. And then there’s production, where there seems to be some urban legend that if it’s astounding – by virtue of its own aceness – it automatically discredits the singer at the helm of the music. It’s lucky for 18-year-old Alexis Jordan then, that her debut album proves a delight.
Instead of positioning her as another hyper-sexualised popstrel on the factory line, this album puts the former America’s Got Talent finalist forth as the person to breathe life into the silliness of a pubescent crush. It’s a wise decision too, as her lyrics are unbridled enough to melt an ice-cold heart – she sings about wanting to walk in high heels, and how she enjoys listening to her crush’s voice as he talks to her on the phone. While this may sound unbearably twee, it’s that very focus on a pure, single-minded crush that makes it; the mood and upbeat tempo of this album as a whole has all of the excitement of that very feeling.
Stargate’s production is typically clattery on Hush Hush, and it’s there that the strength and soul in her voice feels most empowering. Love Mist comes close to pushing proceedings over the edge with grimace-inducing reggae-lite beats, but the determined sass in Jordan’s vocal on High Road’s chorus duly emits that touchable sense of beatific innocence.
The approach to teen love is rudimentary, but that’s not meant as disrespect – this album is so caught up in that sense of gaiety that it transports the listener straight back to that very place, dancing around their bedroom with a dazed look in their eyes. It’s the same sweet stuff that made Shanice’s sole hit I Love Your Smile such a classic. Whether Jordan will trail off in the same short-lived fashion as her is a more long-term concern, but let’s not forget that Britney Spears sung about the object of her affections emailing her heart on her debut – and it didn’t do her music much damage in the long run.