In an age where pop stars seem intent on shocking and wearing as little as possible, Scottish-Swedish songstress Nina Nesbitt is something akin to a breath of fresh air. Fully clothed - shock horror - and with no sign of twerking, her debut album arrives after two years of honing her craft, which culminated last year with being the soundtrack to the John Lewis campaign.
Given her striking appearance, it wouldn't be completely inconceivable to think 'Peroxide' was a reference to Nesbitt's bleach blonde hair, but the title and opening track soon shows there is much more to it than this - and indeed Nesbitt herself. A chiming mid-tempo number, it actually refers to the burning effect of a broken relationship and has an impressive grandness that would be expected from a closing number. If this is an indication that this isn't your typical teenager, the idea is reaffirmed by 'Stay Out'; a witty social commentary on trends and trying to fit in laced with infectious hooks. The ear for catchy melody is demonstrated further on 'Selfies' which, despite an under-developed chorus, manages to provide insight into the potential mindset of those who indulge in self-portraits. Up to this point of the record, it is clear that Nesbitt is capable of bouncy pop, but 'Align' signals a wider ability. A string-laden ballad not unlike Howie Day's 'Collide', we are given a delicate but stirring vocal performance that impresses. She returns to the genre on a couple of occasions later on - notably the country-tinged duet 'Hold You' with Kodaline - to demonstrate an aptitude for slower tempo material that places greater emphasis on her voice.
The second half of the record provides further expansion to Nesbitt's musical landscape, with 'The Outcome' edging toward rock and not totally unlike early Avril Lavigne, while the impressive coming-of-age track '18 Candles' sees her sounding like a young KT Tunstall. 'He's The One I'm Bringing Back' is a venture into funk that aims for fun but marginally falls into annoyance, but it's a small blot on what is a very assured first release. What Nesbitt has very successfully done is made a record that covers themes that most can relate to from their teenage years - first love, broken relationships, growing up - in a way that is accessible to those both younger and older, whilst crucially avoiding clichés in most cases. Put this together with her ability for utilising catchy pop hooks across various musical styles and the result is a young artist with a lot of talent and huge potential - and who can let her music earn her attention, as opposed to her image.
Continue reading: Nina Nesbitt - Peroxide Album Review