Most anticipated albums of 2013
Number 1 :
Little Boots – As yet untitled second album
Release date: March, rumoured or more likely whenever she gets around to it.
I’m probably risking any credibility I may have (none?) by saying Little Boots’ new album is my most anticipated of the year, as I am in an incredible tiny minority. For most people, Little Boots is one of those artists who is only ever brought up in conversation when she is used as an example of how far off the BBC’s Sound of… polls can be. People scoff that she came in at number one on the Sound of 2009 poll, in a list that included, in hindsight, far more successful names such as Lady Gaga, Mumford and Sons, Florence + the Machine and La Roux.
With Little Boots, the potential was definitely there. Her buzz single, Stuck on Repeat, was a Kylie-stylie, glitchy, Hot Chip for girls, electro-pop banger. The song was released for free as a Single of the Week on iTunes. She appeared on Jools Holland playing her nerdy, Japanese Tenori-on gadget. She topped the Sound Of ‘09 poll. All was looking very promising. Then, for some reason her label, 679, who also messed up Marina and the Diamonds’ album campaigns, decided to release New In Town as the first proper single, which was a bit different to what everyone had been expecting, a more pop and less dance-oriented song, with fairly simplistic lyrics (“I’m gonna take you out tonight, I’m gonna make you feel alright”) . The song charted at number 13, the album, Hands, charted at 5 and went gold.
It wasn’t until Remedy came out that Little Boots had a proper hit on her hands, and a bloody good one it was too. A massive pop tune, a huge chorus and a video featuring Boots playing on her little Tenori-on just like the good old days. She said herself that this video was far more ‘her’ than that of the past single. It had kaleidoscope effects. It had a bit that went OH-oh-OH-oh-OH. It was great and accepted far more readily by the public and the club scene. Next single Earthquake floundered and that was it, Little Boots was regarded as a one hit wonder. Nobody remembers New in Town, naturally.
The last album was patchy. There were some great songs, such as all of those above and Meddle, a few songs that were alright, like Mathematics, and some that were crap, such as the title track (why would you name your album after the worst song on your album?). Some of the songs sounded like early Britney Spears rejects, unsuitable for a lass from Blackpool in her mid-twenties. It’s one of those albums where you add a few tracks to your playlists, then forget about the rest, which in this case is pretty fair, I would say.
What will the new album sound like?
After that big balls-up, why would I be looking forward to Little Boots’ new album? She’s taken a massive break, four years, to come up with the goods for album two, which is enough time to cut out all the filler to avoid the same situation again. Also handily, unlike Lady Gaga and Goldfrapp, Little Boots has released a few songs in the past two years which indicate what the new album will sound like. And that sound is quite exciting.
In her time away, Boots has been releasing countless unnecessary mixtapes and touring clubs as a DJ act for some reason and all this dance music she has been hearing seems to have had a nice effect on the sounds she is now making. The first of these new singles is Shake (at top of page), a six-minute-something electro-dance-house track with a thwomp-thwomp bass bit. Descriptive. You can tell she is all authentic and cool now because there is a record player in the video and only cool people have vinyl. Shake has a good robot voice that says SHAKE every so often, which is a plus point for me, again it sounds like Hot Chip done by girls. There are drum machines, synths, a bloopy-bloop noise throughout that I cannot identify and a La-la-la-la-la-laaah bit in the chorus. Everybody SHAKE ‘til your heart breaks indeed. It does make me want to shake actually. Not in a spasmodic or convulsive fashion, but rather I want to bust some of my white-man moves and grind my hips like only Shakira knows how. Thumbs up, Botitas.
The second single, Every Night I Say a Prayer, is another step up and it actually has a proper video. Granted, it’s not a very good video, but Victoria herself features doing her awkward-in-front-of-the-camera moves. That’s part of the appeal of Little Boots for me; her music sounds like she is desperate to make it big and be a star, but then she always looks very uncomfortable in front of the camera. I like reluctance. Her awkward shuffles remind me of my own early appearances on dance floors, like at my first and only school disco, where I just stood by the Haribo bar and snacked on dolphin-shaped sweets rather than doing the Macarena in a tracksuit with the popular kids. Every Night I Say a Prayer is pretty catchy, another more dancey song that previous work, with a mashing of piano keys in the chorus and a hook of I HAVE SEEN INTO THE FUTURE, like a foxy, one-woman Busted. No talk of triple-breasted women, though. In the video, aside from the very pouty and limber gentlemen who throw serious shapes around her, lyrics pop up on the screen, but at random moments and sometimes in the wrong places, like two fingers up to the recent, pointless trend of lyric videos. Every Night I Say A Prayer is available as a free download on Boot’s Soundcloud page, along with several remixes as well, if you fancy it.
Third single, Headphones, is a bit of a return to that more obviously pop sound exhibited in Boots’ first album singles, but it’s still good and it features another video of Victoria looking a bit awkward in front of the camera, but the video plays on this fact, with a sleazy back alley club where punters can listen to some Little Boots tunes on the supplied headphones and lose themselves in the music, having hallucinations of themselves as the confident figure they dream of being,. Little Boots herself goes from looking like a Countryfile presenter to a rather more confident B-list popstar, as do various other characters, some of whom are more frightening and transvestite than others. The song itself is more of the British Kylie Little Boots with another chorus consisting of LA-LA-LALALA LALA-LALA-LALALA, LA-LA-LALALA LALA-LALA-LALALA, which looks more annoying and repetitive than it really is when written down. I don’t think anyone else really wears their headphones at the disco because they don’t like the music, but it could perhaps speak to those who go to silent discos (Do those only exist in Freshers’ Week?) and find themselves singing out loud for everyone to hear. Finally that awkward moment expressed in song. This single is perhaps the weakest and least exciting of the bunch, but also the catchiest and the most easily accessible for a radio audience and it has some excellent remixes, most of which are available for free download on the Soundcloud page again. The best of all is the Dimitri From Paris remix, which has been eighties-Madonnified and sounds all the better for it. That was also free to download from Dimitri’s page at one point but that might all have changed and I can’t be bothered to check.
So there we have it, three bloody good songs which in theory should be appearing on the new album. Then again, Marina released Radioactive as a pre-album single and then ended up only including it as a bonus track on the deluxe version of the album. If these songs don’t feature, I’ll be fairly miffed. Some might argue that there’s no need to have previously available songs on the album when you can have new material, but that new material might be crap, so I’d rather have a more consistent album. Or you could just chuck it all on there and make a 20-track album that you pick your favourite bits from, but that is a bit lazy.
What about the artwork?
Boots’ imagery was pretty good last time, with all her triangles and kaleidoscopic bits and bobs (which were then stolen by everyone and used to more popular effect), but the single covers so far have been black and white photos of her with her hands in a headphone position and a saying-a-prayer position. I suppose artwork is the least of her concerns at the moment, as she is probably more worried about releasing an album and trying to claw back any relevance she may have had at one point in order to prove the doubters wrong.
What is the worst she could do at this point?
Releasing a patchy album would be inexcusable after a four year absence, I’m expecting heavier dance beats this time round and I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get them. It would also be a bit of faux pas to prevent people from buying your music, which she hasn’t realised, releasing a vinyl-only 12-inch double single last week under the pseudonym LB. It’s almost as if she doesn’t want people to hear it, but one of her team uploaded the full version of side 1, Superstitious Heart on Youtube. Does it count as leaking? Is any leaking accidental anymore? Who knows or cares? The song is by far the weakest of all those that have appeared so far and not very danceable. If she could just pull a Remedy-sized pop single out from under her headphones to entice the public once more, she would be alright, but we’ll have to wait and see what promotion 679 get her nearer the time. Probably nothing. Or releasing a non-album track as a single. Or going for first-week sales and then abandoning the whole campaign.
How good does this album need to be?
It remains to be seen whether anyone will really take any notice so it doesn’t matter how good the album is, really, but I’d like all the tracks on the album to be at least on the level of Shake, an 8/10.
Don’t let me down, Hesketh.