Saturday, 5 December 2009

REVIEW: Little Boots - Hands



After catching the appearance of Little Boots - aka Victoria Hesketh of Blackpool, a resort town merely a stones throw from the city in which H-T-A was birthed - on Jools Holland some time last year, I had been anticipating her first release with great interest. A skewed, piano & synth-powered version of Meddle marked her out as an  intriguing new talent to keep a close eye on.



Since that appearance Little Boots has exploded out around Europe and, to a lesser extent, here in the US, playing key festivals and charting all over. Having missed a lot of the intervening material between the Arecibo EP (originally covered here) and Hands, released over the summer, I was initially taken aback by how much her sound seems to have moved on in a relatively short period of time. The difference in the two Jools performances embedded above and below exemplifies this rather effectively, but suffice it to say the production has been kicked up by a notch. Or twenty.

This hacked me off for the first month or two of listening to Hands. The marketing bods appeared to have come into play and shined away all that raw, unpolished talent in deference to the sheen required for top 40 radio appeal. After surgical removal of the chip from my shoulder, however, I'm willing to admit I was being a cock. Hands isn't just the one or two shiny singles I had assumed it to be. Rather, it's an overwhelmingly catchy collection of pop-electronica with barely any filler to be heard.



Kicking off with the swaggering, Numan-esque New In Town, the line between club dancefloor packer and hit single is walked effortlessly, the song evoking memories of any great night you've had on the cheap. Equally upbeat but shifting Victoria's voice into more emotional territory, Earthquake follows and maintains the momentum with it's FX-laden, immediate chorus. An updated version of Stuck On Repeat - originally to be found on the aforementioned Arecibo EP - is next, representing the old guard in this new world of high production values and densely layered sound. 

Truth be told, the identity of the older material has been upheld on Hands, despite the heavily augmented sound. Both this song and Meddle reveal new facets, perhaps not coming over as loose and personal as once they might but certainly offering the same blend of synthetized piano-pop.


MP3: Little Boots - Removed by request







Buy it at Insound!


But it's really in the new songs that the true delights are to be found, spanning heartfelt emotional exploration (Hearts Collide) to tongue-in-cheek relationship metaphor (Mathematics) and tributes to the healing qualities of music (Remedy). All effected with a natural flair for a contagious chorus and absolutely massive beats swirling underneath them. As they keep coming thick and fast, it's clear that bearing a grudge on the basis of what is simply the artist's talent being fully realised would be churlish in the extreme.

Most will have cottoned onto Little Boots due to the release of one of these addictive singles, which works out perfectly as the immediacy is exactly what they're looking for and is fulfilled in spades. For those of us transitioning to the fully enhanced sound unleashed on Hands, it's without doubt a worthy process to experience. As the various anthems pop up - sans iPod - in one's mind throughout the day, a world of neon fantasy is conjured up that proves well worth the journey.

"And when the music fades away 
I know I'll be okay  
Contagious rhythm in my brain 
Let it play"


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Now playing:
Beach House - Norway
via FoxyTunes

2 comments:

Griff said...

zidered,

I really enjoy reading your reviews here. Myself and some friends have started a release blog that I would love to have you contribute to. We write articles/reviews on the latest movies, games, music, etc. and you would be a great fit. We can offer you a great community and dedicated audience. Check it out at GetTheNew.com, and if you're interested email me.

Cheers, and keep up the great work here,
Griff
Admin@GetTheNew.com

zidered said...

Thanks for reading, Griff. Checking site out now.