Taio Cruz Rokstarr Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

This collection sounds like tomorrow’s hits, today.

Mike Diver 2009

With pop still enjoying a purple patch of anti-disposability, initiated to some extent by the rise to prominence of producers like Xenomania and Richard X, there’s never been a better opportunity for London’s Taio Cruz to make his mark. And with his track Break Your Heart doing the business on the singles chart – it debuted at number one – this second album is perfectly timed.

Comprised of 11 original numbers and his Tinchy Stryder hook-up Take Me Back, all of which feature Cruz as at least a co-writer (befitting given his history as a songwriter for Will Young and current calling as a collaborator with the likes of Sugababes, Britney Spears and Cheryl Cole), Rokstarr bounces to a beat that feels fresh and vibrant. Even at its slowest moments – the glitchy RnB of Best Girl, the syrupy I’ll Never Love Again and Forever Love’s Vocoder-smoulder – this collection sounds like tomorrow’s hits, today.

That number one was written for Girl-Aloud-gone-solo Cole, but made its way back to Cruz after drawing a blank from the sometime talent show judge’s management team. And the result is one that’s gone some way to making Cruz into the star he is at present, the track a naggingly infectious, smooth-of-chorus affair with a vocal hook so sharp and barbed it’s a wonder one can think of anything else for a full ten minutes after it’s finished. As far as calling cards go, it’s up there with Sound of the Underground.

Not that Cruz hadn’t enjoyed chart success before now – last year saw Come On Girl make the top five, and its parent LP, Departure, went top 20 – but Rokstarr really marks his arrival as a pop force to be reckoned with, and will see many other artists flock to work with him. Dirty Picture, featuring US singer Ke$ha, is the kind of track Sugababes should be patching up their every difference ever for, and Only You takes the anthemic atmosphere of Take That at their most mother-and-daughter friendly and puts a neat contemporary RnB spin on proceedings.

With such a talent obviously crying out for attention, and rightly receiving it, there’s only really one question to end on: why, oh why, is the title spelled like that? Answers on a virtual postcard, please.

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