x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Little Boots: Hands

While there is some throw-back to the 80s in this CD, it is fresh enough to blow the competition out of the water.


What's the sound of summer for 2009? It's the electro-backed female vocalist. From the dreadful Lady Gaga to the excellent La Roux via the Kate-Bush-meets-Bladerunner tunes of Florence & The Machine, high-pitched wailings set against throbbing synths have taken music on a magical mystery tour of the early Eighties. Looking set to be preeminent in this mini-movement is the English singer Little Boots, aka Victoria Hesketh, whose sophisticated songs and Depeche-Mode-alike production have a strong commercial edge. The constant MTV airplay of New In Town, the first single from the album, will secure her popularity for this autumn at least and, judging by the rest, Little Boots will be around for a while. Easily the best song is Stuck on Repeat, a hard, thumping bassline welded to huge synthed-up choruses and an angular melody: a candidate for remixes and dancefloor ubiquity for years to come. Apart from having an ear for an appealing riff, Hesketh is a tunesmith of some skill, twinning lyrics and melodies with a genuine understanding of both verbal and musical rhythm in the angry, stabbing flurry of Meddle, the icy stylings of Ghost and the expansive, hazy chromatics of Hearts Collide. The one problem, though, is Hesketh's voice. It is tolerable in the lower register, if self-consciously breathy and kittenish, like a low-rent Beth Gibbons. But when it comes to those powered-up choruses, she combines the mannered croaking of the blandest American R&B with the shrillness of a squealing door hinge. These moments are blessedly rare, though, and if she can sort out her intonation, Little Boots will walk all over the opposition.

* Gemma Champ