As you watch Watford singer-songwriter Kyla La Grange pout and agonise in front of rows of bunting and Barbie dolls, you start to wonder, did Courtney Love lose her mind for this?
And yet the effigies are fitting; La Grange’s first album, 2012’s Ashes, though high on drama and emotion, drew criticism for its plastic nature, all watered-down Florence and washed-out Bat For Lashes in its production, with little in the way of individual voice.
She’s here to introduce the songs to its follow-up, and the likes of the glimmery ‘Maia’, which keeps the strong flavour of Kate Bush but adds a cool, slinky electronic atmosphere reminiscent of the gaseous, twilit sonic worlds of Telepathe or the xx. The title of ‘The Knife’ hints at other sources, and it’s likely The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson’s Fever Ray project too is an influence on the rippling steel drum sounds and crisp beats.
If the result falls closer to Ellie Goulding thanks to La Grange’s perma-pouting delivery, the likes of slick, dark-R&B next single ‘Cut Your Teeth’, and ‘Cannibals’, with its clanking, subaqueous beats and eerily chirruping vocals finally subsumed in a rolling, crashing climax are classy stuff. Still easier to market than to love, though.