Daniel Birch reviews Katy B’s latest LP, having waited a few years for it…
Katy B’s sophomore album ‘Little Red’ bridges the three year gap from her first album On a Mission. The album boasts a more mature sound and seemingly does this through her exploration into ballads. Crying for No Reason, the most recent release for Katy, is the first ballad on the album. It balances her previous dance background with a more sombre tone excellently. Whilst she’s not competing with the rawness of ballad divas like Adele, it exemplifies her more mature tone. However, the songs Emotions and Still, that appear mid album, are overkill. Unlike Go Away on her previous album, these songs just don’t seem to tackle emotional problems with the same strength as the rest of the track list. Sure, it could be interpreted as a moment of vulnerability, but it feels too soft for her. It feels like a lull half way through and calming the dance influence feels like a mistake, taking away B’s signature sound.
Yet, some songs really shine and prove why Katy B has been such a pioneer in bringing together dance and mainstream pop music. I Like You – a personal favourite of mine – surrounds her desires for a man despite the pain of break-ups. The song harkens back to her previous sound whilst adding polish with complexity. Aaliyah which features R&B, soul artist Jessie Ware, makes its welcome return after being featured on her Danger E.P. The song balances B’s more desperate pleas for a girl to stop seducing the DJ, with Ware’s controlled vocal assault on her. From its previous incarnation you can see her development, the song is faster aided by quickening beats; it is layered with echoed vocals making the whole experience much more fluent.
This album is much like most movie trilogy. The start and ending are packed solid, the middle, not so much. But what this album does show is Katy B’s continual effort to renew herself. She is attempting to bring more emotion into the field of dance much like Sam Smith and Rudimental. This isn’t as storming as On a Mission, but it shows more variety and subtlety to her work, at the cost of a slightly boring middle. Regardless, this is a good album which achieves an emotionally mature new presentation of the British dance superstar.