x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Katy B: On a Mission

Is the much-anticipated debut album from the British singer Katy B the future of music or the past?

Katy B
On a Mission
(Columbia)

For an artist who's been hailed as the future of pop, Katy B's debut sure has an air of the past about it. Almost as if the "mission" of the title was to leave no era of British urban music unexplored, the 21-year-old singer jumps between R&B, garage, rave, 1990s breakbeat and (of course) dubstep over the record's 55 minutes.

But rather than feeling forced or cluttered, Katy B makes it look like a breeze. A former pupil at the influential South London BRIT School (alongside Amy Winehouse, Adele, Jessie J and others) Katy B doesn't appear to have had the rough edges of her Peckham upbringing knocked-off completely at the exclusive institution.

From her sub-bass-fuelled breakout track Katy On a Mission to the seasoned R&B of Broken Record and the sultry and seductive Witches Brew, Katy B sounds smart, lively and empowered - a refreshing alternative to many of the bubblegum princesses who currently rule pop. The pleasure of the record is its seemingly effortless updating of bygone urban styles around a singer with an unusually warm vocal and buoyant outlook.

Her approach doesn't always work, however; the garage throwback Lights On (featuring Ms Dynamite) quickly becomes tiresome. Thanks in no small part to a star line-up of collaborators - including Benga, Geeneus and DJ Zinc - almost every song on the album sounds like not just a future single, but a sure-fire dance-floor filler.