From small packages can spring great things. When Victoria Hesketh appeared onto the internet memesphere last year showcasing her ability to grapple with the Tenori-on (a light-sequencing electronic Japanese instrument) there was always a high probability that any subsequent releases wouldn’t quite live up to those impressive yet amateur beginnings. So it is with delight that State can report that Hands proves Little Boots is far beyond pure gimmickry.
Bedroom covers of Wiley and Hot Chip are all well and good for a fleeting nanosecond but for Little Boots the challenge was to turn those captivating moments into a genuine pop career – you can’t hide behind an impressive instrument on disc you see. Thankfully, she has some safe yet contrasting collaborators on board. Her decision to team up with Joe Goddard (yes, of Hot Chip) and more tellingly, Greg Kurstin (who worked on Lily Allen’s new one It’s Not Me, It’s You, Ladyhawke’s debut and ahem, Britney’s Circus) help flesh out Hesketh’s electro-pop leanings with some atmospheric disco-ball timbres and nostalgic pop sounds.
‘Stuck on Repeat’, Hesketh’s first foray into proper single territory is present here, albeit in re-recorded, edited form. Making no apologies for its Moroder synths, it’s a stomping, glittering throwback to disco glamour and it’s from that era that Hands takes its cue. Opener and first single ‘New In Town’ features swirling synths and lyrics about a poor girl who’s “gonna show you a good time” and the good times continue into the bass and synth-emboldened ‘Earthquake’.
Hesketh’s status as disco diva is hampered somewhat by her fairly pedestrian if pleasant vocal range. For much of the album’s 48 minutes you’ll hardly notice, as the teenage girl inside of you will be jumping from hook to hook, but occasionally the songs veer close enough to cheesy pop territory like the Eurovision-friendly ‘Remedy’ and the floaty light ‘Tune Into My Heart’. Unfortunately, this also reveals the odd cliche lyric worthy of a bad Madonna record ‘Dancing is my remedy’, ‘We click like two parts of a puzzle’, a cheesy monologue in the song ‘No Brakes’ etc etc but no-one was expecting Little Boots to address anything more than pop’s lowest common interests – love, dancing and heartbreak.
That said, it’s a remarkably easy record to like, nay love. Take the drum march of ‘Ghosts’ or the Phil Oakley-featuring (yes, of authentic ’80s band The Human League) electro-pop candy of ‘Symmetry’ where the noughties and the eighties go tete-a-tete in some twisted pop time warp and it sounds brilliant especially when bolstered by a to die-for bleepy synth backing. There’s just enough zeitgeist-capturing sounds informed by modern electronica, house and disco to place it into the canon of British pop music 2009. Hesketh doesn’t have the character to match pop contemporaries Lady Gaga or Lily Allen but she does have lots of talent and promise pouring from those little boots.
Hands is out on June 5th. You can buy it here.