Little Boots is New In Town. Does she deserve to stay?
Victoria Hesketh, the 25-year-old singer behind the pseudonym Little Boots, has had a momentous first few months in the music business. After working with Lady GaGa’s producer RedOne on the track Remedy, (before Just Dance invaded Britain’s ears), being voted #1 in the BBC’s Sound of 2009 poll and collaborating with her childhood idol Philip Oakey of the Human League on Symmetry, you would be forgiven for expecting an immense album of intelligent, retro-futuristic electropop. Unfortunately, the futuristic side of things ends with the cover design, but Hands’ retrospective leanings stand firm with a handful of possible Kylie Minogue leftovers.
Stuck On Repeat, the focal point of her EP from earlier this year bucks the trend of the 80’s revival occurring on the majority of the album by sounding very 90’s dance and wouldn’t have been out of place during the Kylie’s moody Confide In Me era. Elsewhere, Tune Into My Heart, (the title, theme and chorus of which are laughably twee), could easily have been snatched from Kylie circa Stock Aitken & Waterman, whilst Hearts Collide, the only track to warrant attention in the 2nd half of the album at last utilises Hesketh’s forgivably plain vocals in a seductive song that mirrors the sultry Australian pop poppet of recent years.
That’s not to say that Hands doesn’t have its more original moments. Debut single proper New In Town opens with a startling melody of stop-starting synths, as does the next track, Earthquake, with its bittersweet lyrics and euphorically melancholy chorus. Remedy, the planned 2nd single, is a triumphant kick-arse romp that will undoubtedly be a club smash, and this, or even the sophisticated Click, could have won us this year’s Eurovision.
Little Boots is clearly unafraid of a good batch of cheesy pop, and though her credibility as an artist rises with the knowledge that she co-wrote most of the album, it’s no use being a singer-songwriter with average vocals and average lyrics. For instance on Symmetry, the clichéd opening line is – “You’re the night to my day, and the left to my right”, sung without a hint of irony, as Hesketh’s authentic performance throughout confirms.
Yet, even if her lyrics lack depth, her tunes certainly don’t. Intriguing and inventive, it’s a shame that some of her more adventurous arrangements are wasted on songs sang, at times, almost half-heartedly, such as on filler tracks Meddle and Ghost. Unfortunately, the only time the full power of Hesketh’s voice is showcased is on hidden title track Hands, but here she has gone into Kate Bush mode with only a piano as a backdrop. (Note too that her stutter-singing is remarkably similar to that of Kate Nash on Skeleton Song, a track from her own debut, Made Of Bricks).
Relying too heavily on metaphors for Mathematics and closer No Brakes, (in which love is compared to driving a car ladies and gentlemen), Little Boots assumes that naive persona of young Kylie Minogue singing I Should Be So Lucky with the carelessness of newfound fame. Whether Hesketh’s own fame will last as long as her counterpart’s remains to be seen, but for now it’s clear that Hands is a half-good album at best that, in full, doesn’t quite deserve the status of being Stuck On Repeat.