Popping up on a host of -one to watch’ polls at the turn of the year, it’s with a drum roll, an introductory yelp and tongue firmly in cheek that VV Brown opens her anticipated and stylistically varied debut album, Travelling Like the Light. Marking a change from the standard radio-pop fare of her 2005 debut single -Whipped’, Brown’s four years at the drawing board have been spent writing for the Sugababes, supporting Amy Winehouse and collaborating with Damon Albarn on his Africa Express project. Evidently, the link-ups have considerably broadened her musical palette.
As journeys go, the 25-year-old songwriter (she’s written all but one track here whilst also playing most of the instruments) covers all bases. Sixties romp-pop jettisons throughout -Quick Fix’; girl-power R&B jilts an ex-lover on -Game Over’; radio-friendly sunshine pop pours through current single -Shark in the Water’; while there’s even a nod to rockabilly on -L.O.V.E’. Assured and confident throughout, it’s the Sugababes and Lily Allen who most seem in touch with Brown’s musical stylings. You can imagine either of the aforementioned acts skipping their way through the Fifties-tinged powerpop of -Crying Blood’ or the effervescence of -Leave’ and -Bottles’.
Like Allen’s debut, an ex-boyfriend is at the lyrical centre, but like Allen, the mood is anything but broken-hearted and crying in the corner. Bristling with energy, Brown insures that her pop cocktail rarely leaves a sour taste and, though nothing particularly stands-out, there’s still enough here to mildly excite.
Best of all is penultimate song -Crazy Amazing’, a hit in waiting if only for its use of the melody from Hoagy Carmichael’s -Heart and Soul’, which featured memorably in Tom Hanks’ 1988 classic, -Big’.
Travelling Like the Light doesn’t quite live up to the expectations placed upon it, but then little does these days. One to watch for sure, but let’s wait and see what album number two has to offer.