Review of MPHO's debut album Pop Art
South African born/ Brixton raised singer Mpho is clearly a woman that wants to avoid the restrictive shackles of being pigeonholed to a genre she doesn't feel she belongs to. And who can blame her? 'Supposed to be some ghetto chick making all this urban music' Mpho fiercely rejects this notion on level headed single Box n Locks and it doesn't stop there 'Sorry that I didn't know that I fit in the box and all the locks are supposed to be unbreakable' Well that's us told then! If there is anybody planning on 'boxing' Mpho in as yet another one dimensional R&B artist then don't bother she'll just kick the doors off!
Aside from the songs lyrics, Box n Locks is a single as good as any that we've heard in 2009, from its twinkling chords to its refreshingly unprocessed drums it really should have been everywhere in the summer instead of failing to even penetrate the top 40.
It's very apparent once Box n Locks has passed that Pop Art is an album that refused to stick to one particular sound. Fix Ya Face proves to be the most notable contrast with its confrontational lyrics 'small face girl I'm not afraid of ya girl and I wouldn't back down if you stepped to me' which merge perfectly with 80s Beverly Hills Cop synths and beats. But such aggression is as easily counteracted in the form of sugar sweet ballads Man Who Got Away as well as the glorious Morning After.
Ultimately Pop Art is an album as sharp and attention grabbing as its purple and yellow art work, crossing genres from pop to soul to R&B and even flirting at times with rock. It' the effortless manner in which these steps are taken that make Mphos debut a captivating listen, and one that's more than capable of standing toe to toe with the La Roux's and Lily Allen's of this world. 'I bet you didn't know that I could do this to?' she announces early on, well she's right we didn't, but we sure do now.