Review of VV Brown's album Travel Like The Light.
2009 still has 5 months of music to produce but it already looks like being remembered for records produced by women. With the likes of La Roux, Bat for Lashes and Florence and the Machine already nominated for a Mercury award, as well as the successful return of Lilly Allen its quickly becoming the most exciting time for female solo artists in recent memory. Looking to join the party is Northampton style Icon and ex backing singer VV Brown with her debut effort Travelling like the light.
Already signed to labels both sides of the Atlantic and having received rave reviews from the LA Times, its not at all surprising that the hype machine has been switched to overdrive for VV long before a note of her debut had even been recorded. Its just a shame however that opening track Quick Fix rains on the parade so early on in proceedings. Irritating from the off, it bursts out of the traps with a childish scream and a circus esque drum roll that will have you reaching for the nearest power tool. The zaniness bar is then raised by a fairground style organ effect that adds more clutter to an already over produced track, it really is the wackiest thing since Pat sharp and Fun House. Matters don't exactly improve in the form of Crying Blood if anything they get worse, much worse. A track that comes equipped with all of the annoying traits of Quick Fix but this time provides a chorus so similar to Monster Mash that it really has to be heard to be believed.
I'm half expecting a Happy days sample when single Shark in the water arrives. A welcome relief from the contrived 50's style do-wop pop that dominates travelling like the light, Shark in the water boasts a powerful and infectiously catchy chorus as well as a stunning middle eight that signals the albums undoubted highlight and one of very few saving graces. With a more natural use of vocals and a stripped down production technique the improvement is refreshing and works wonders for a track that wouldn't look out of place at the top of the charts. The same formula is executed on Back in Time as quirkiness is ditched for a smoother more subtle sound. Unfortunately moments like these are all too brief on an album that seems obsessed with creating a brand of contrived retrospective pop accompanied by an array of irritating modern twists.
You can't help but get the suspicion that that whole rockabilly 50s image and branding has been put in place by the marketing hacks at Island records in an attempt to separate VV Brown from potential commercial rivals. Sadly it's the sound that comes attached to this image that proves to be the albums ultimate downfall.