by / December 15th, 2010 /

Duffy – Endlessly

 2/5 Rating

(Polydor)

Oh Duffy, what were you thinking? Where did it all go wrong? We remember first unwrapping Rockferry, and finding something this decade hadn’t seen yet: a 21st century twist on a mid-20th century style, and one with sincere originality. You were soulful, and crammed your music with genuinely dazzling vocals. You soared, explored and came out of the other side sounding like a new voice, one who wasn’t willing to compromise it all for stardom. And we believed you. You reminded us of Amy Whinge-house, except you had soul, and you sung about things that mattered. You even left out the drug-addled, tabloid back-story. It wasn’t our normal ‘thing’, but we’ll admit to being just a little wowed.

Did the record label get to you? Did they insist you become more ‘accessible’ (read ‘repetitive’)? Did they point to Britney, Christina and Kylie, and demand that you add a funky backbeat? Perhaps they told you that your vocals were just as suited to throwaway pop; that being genuinely affecting isn’t necessary providing you have a nice hook or two? No doubt they pointed to the radio shows, the three-minute songs and the modern generations ‘short attention span’? Or, heaven forbid, Duffy, was this all your own doing?

What were you thinking when they handed you ‘Well Well Well’? Did you hear that sound back, clocking in somewhere between a pitch-altered chipmunk and a glaringly obvious and diabolically karaoke-esque reference to Dawn Penn’s ‘No No No’? Did you really think bringing in a slight hip-hop edge to a track or two was what your sound needed? And that bleepy backdrop on ‘Lovestruck’… admit it, you were thinking of the top end of the charts at the time, weren’t you? Did the title track or ‘Oh Boy’ not remind you of what this should have been?

We’re suspicious, Duffy. We’re suspicious that you knew exactly what you were doing. That you knew that hiding the soulful numbers amongst the album tracks and going all ‘pop diva’ on us would make you a bundle of cash. That following the path you trod on ‘Rockferry’ – or doing your own thing – wouldn’t demand the same attention. That you felt, second time round, you could no longer rely on your voice. There’s one thing we’re sure of, Duffy. Your voice is your greatest asset, and ‘Endlessly’ hides it under layers of middle of the road inanities. We weren’t expecting you to change the world, Duffy. We’d just hoped you wouldn’t become another clone. Thanks, though. Thank you for the good times, and enjoy your heaps of cash. We’ll try and avoid that inevitable mental picture: just another throwaway, middle of the road, cardboard-cutout pop star. What a waste.

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  • Abe

    I don’t think the charts comparisons have anything to do with it, since most of her Rockferry singles were chart-toppers

    Also, I dont think she should be 100% boxed into the mould of Rockferry

    I think it’s good for artists to cross over and try out new genres

    However, if your gonna do it, do it properly!

    As bad as it may be in comparison to earlier stuff, Well Well Well is an alright pop track, and lets her be more fun & playful than anything from her last album would, so I welcome that track.

    The issue isnt the plan, its the execution. I think 2/3 good upbeat tracks, then the rest of her older style would have pleased, but what we got now is 50/50 upbeat/oldschool, and unfortunately the oldschool side is the weaker half

    And ironically in ref the ‘heaps of cash’ comment, it hasnt been high on sales

    Then theres the other issues of changing management, and havin Hammond as an exclusive writer

    I wonder how much the original plan actually changed over the past year, and what ended up on the cuttin room floor

    But regardless, I think it’s too early in her career to write her off as a ‘sell-out’
    (I HATE that phrase!)

  • Abe you know well we agree on very little when it comes to music!

    I think Rockferry was successful purely off the back of being different, a bit like Winehouse and a whole load of other ‘alternative’ chart stars around that time. The problem I have is that she’s not different anymore. Not at all. I didn’t actually call her a sell out, just a cardboard cutout popstar, which she is now, no originality on this effort at all. In fact, the lead single is very nearly a straight rip off of a 16 year old single.

    If it hasn’t sold a lot it’s because the music buying public are more discerning than they’re given credit for (as you know I pay next to no attention to the charts). I hope she comes back, but it’ll take a real return to form after this.

    She hasn’t ‘sold out’ as such, but she’s certainly sold her (outstanding) voice down the river in favor of a more fashionable vibe.

  • Abe

    Look if you love a certain cover band, I’ happy for ye! 😛

    I only disagreed with parts of the review, and wasn’t quoting you on the sellout thing, oops!

    I just mean as an artist, she may feel she’s already done what she accomplished with Rockferry, so as opposed to keeping that going [ie whats expected of her], she may have done this because she personally wanted to try out the genre / something new

    There’s always the idea that artists who ‘go mainstream’ are doing it for the sake of fame/money, but I don’t agree with that at all, for the most part

    It’s like being a non-conformist as a political statement

    If you want to try something new, you should be able to without the fear of being labelled as mainstream / sellout, etc

    So, I still have no problems with the type of album she aimed to make, but still agree that what we got is a bit woeful 🙁

  • Maybe… if she did it for personal reasons or because it’s what the record company wanted, though, the end result is the same: it’s bland, and offers nothing new at all. Ah well. I guess none of us can know her motives were for sure, we can only judge on the results.

    I’d have given it a good review if it was a good pop record, it just isn’t, unfortunately.

  • Artists of Duffy’s ilk normally have their hands held firmly by the record companies and it’s the A&R staff who’ll decide how an album should sound. So if you want to point fingers…

    In related news, ‘Well Well Well’ is one of the most annoying songs of the year.

  • I gotta agree, I think ‘Well Well Well’ is bland to the point of dire.

    I’d like to think it wasn’t entirely the record companies decision, Patrick, but perhaps I’m being a touch too optimistic there. She may well have signed away her soul for her weight in gold :(.