First impressions of … England’s Lady GagaA track-by-track preview of U.K. electropop sensation Little Boots’ 2009 release “Hands,” which will finally see release in the States March 2.
Mainstream America is finally going to get a taste of the United Kingdom’s answer to Lady Gaga. Little Boots, not a group but 25-year-old singer Victoria Christina Hesketh, has been busy working the Internet circuits in preparation for her album’s U.S. release date: “Hands,” which the rest of the world has been enjoying since last summer, will drop March 2 in the States. (Thanks, Elektra!)
To celebrate the occasion, I thought I’d take it upon myself to see what all the hype is about. As a recent, but proud, Gaga convertee, I humbly present my first impressions of Little Boots’ “Hands”:
1. “New in Town”
Little Boots and her crew cover a lot of ground in this done-too-soon album opener. In just over three minutes, she rummages through Baz Luhrmann’s record collection (just try and tell me this wouldn’t have worked brilliantly on the “Romeo + Juliet” soundtrack) and pumps your system full of some God Lives Underwater-channeling electronic flourishes before finally unleashing her secret weapon: pure pop prowess. In simplest terms, it would be a crime against car radios if this track was never repeated hour after hour on the FM dial until it stopped being fun.
Not to be outdone, Little Boots ups the repeatability factor with “Earthquake,” quite possibly the most engaging slab of I-can’t-believe-this-wasn’t-recorded-in-the-’80s deliciousness since Gaga’s “Dance in the Dark.” This, my friends, is the beginning of something big.
3. “Stuck on Repeat”
Despite this one’s title, it sounds more like a throwaway B-side than the two winners it follows.
More along the lines of the impossibly underrated Amanda Blank than Gaga or any other of the best-selling electropop artists, “Click” finds Little Boots digging in her heels and expanding her sound. This one, while interesting for its hypnotic qualities, will be a hard sell for radio. The dance floor, on the other hand, is a different story: In the hands of a competent remix artist, this could be another No. 1 shot.
Absolutely impressive. Like a top-notch Basement Jaxx track, “Remedy” is all at once danceable and readymade for giddy, high-on-life sing-alongs.
With a nod — slight as it is — to her home country’s groundbreaking hip-hop subgenre grime, “Meddle” is another great example of this up-and-coming 25-year-old’s immense potential. Little Boots is more than a one-trick Taylor Swift lookalike.
If ever there was a song to turn on your media player’s “visualizations” for, it would be this fanciful odyssey. Despite its overly mainstream qualities, John Lennon and the production team behind Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” show in Las Vegas would be mighty proud.
Not to dismiss “Mathematics,” but it’s more of the neon-nightmare landscapes painted by its predecessor. Interesting, but not essential … or necessarily listenable. I found my finger flirting with the “Next!” button.
Absolutely dreadful. With a male backup singer who seemingly only listens to the missteps of Tears for Fears — whom I love by the way — for inspiration, it sounds like one of those rare ’80s cuts that I don’t like.
10. “Tune Into My Heart”
Ah, yes, the sweet sound of redemption! “Tune Into My Heart” is the ultimate Little Boots song. For that matter, if Ladyhawke had never recorded “Morning Dreams,” it would also be on the shortlist for best throwback pop song of the 2000s: It’s beautiful, meaningful (albeit in a broad-enough-so-everybody-can-take-it-home fashion) and … it’s just glorious. Long live electropop.
11. “Hearts Collide”
Good. Not great. But, really, after a powerhouse like “Tune Into My Heart,” how could it compete?
12. “No Brakes”/“Hands”
This album’s final listed track, “No Brakes,” is nothing to write home about. It’s fine enough, but it adheres to the same Sunday-haze formula utilized on at least half of the tracks on “Hands”; this far into the album, it’s a little yawn-inducing. (Reference the far-from-exciting duo of “Mathematics” and “Symmetry.”) The album’s unlisted bonus track, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air: “Hands” (as it’s known on the Internet) is just Victoria Christina Hesketh and her piano, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Stripped of all her electropop “armor,” the singer still amazes because of her immense talent. She’s definitely one to watch.
Get an exclusive, free Little Boots mix MP3 by visiting her Web site, www.littlebootsmusic.co.uk, or reserve your copy of “Hands” at http://store.elektra.com/collections/little-boots-us-webstore.