Katy B | Artist
Little Red | Album
Sony Music | Label
10 February 2014 | Release Date
8.0 | 10
Up to this point, Katy B’s music could be characterized similarly to other aspiring pop stars’ efforts; promising yet too hesitant in letting the listener to really get to know the artist. That changes almost immediately on Little Red, Katy B’s sophomore LP. “Next Thing” wastes no time in making its intentions clear, as a thumping, electronica production introduces the track, before Katy announces her arrival with a remarkably smooth performance. She’s working with a wonderful production and a great melody, and she lets the song’s many outstanding qualities shine over her stunning vocals.
Pre-release singles “5 AM” and “Crying For No Reason” follow, along with Danger EP cut “Aaliyah,” featuring the equally enchanting Jessie Ware. Of the three, it’s “Crying For No Reason” that stands out in the context of a full album. The ballad soars due to it holding the album’s strongest melody, but also one of Katy’s best vocal performances on Little Red. “I never faced all the pain I caused / Now the pain is hitting me full force,” sings Katy, coming to the devastating, brutal reality of things. Her ability to sell the song’s drama does not go unappreciated, and is one of the most affecting moments on her new album.
Little Red’s overall success can be attributed to the rest of the album holding its own in the face of the knockout opening quartet. “I Like You” is a bombastic juggernaut, full of effects that wouldn’t be out of place on Disclosure’s 2013 masterpiece, Settle. “Tumbling Down” and “Everything” find the versatile singer in mid-tempo settings, and she knocks both out of the park with her alluring and captivating performances. That is perhaps the most surprising revelation from Little Red, how easy it appears to be for Katy B to shape her performances around her surroundings. She constantly hits the right notes, letting go and holding back in equal measure, creating thrillingly dynamic moments throughout.
The album’s lone misstep is “Sapphire Blue,” in which Katy holds back a little too much. There is simply not much remarkable about the song, with everything firmly being adequate. It’s by far the safest Katy and her team play it on Little Red, and that shines through in the recording. Thankfully, that is a minor blip on what is a stunningly cohesive and robust album that bursts at the seams with inspiration. There was a time when Katy B was in the shallow end of the pool that is pop music. Yet on Little Red, she ventures out into deeper depths and becomes a big fish, impossible to ignore and hungry for more.