Wanderlust by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Wanderlust by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

 

Sophie Ellis-Bextor became famous for her dancepop hits of the early 2000s, aided by the production magic of Gregg Alexander, back when he had just disbanded New Radicals but was still full of catchy tunes. A versatile career followed, with forays into modeling, DJing, professional dancing, and reality shows, activities that have perhaps overshadowed her music career in the UK.

 

In the interim, she’s also become one of the more sought-after house feature artists, gracing the records of a array of producers including Calvin Harris and Armin Van Buuren. It’s probably because she brings an aura of luxury to tracks through her characteristically high-class accent, a worthy commodity in era of trashy vocalists from every corner of Europe. There is however, the danger of the pendulum swinging too far the other way. 2011’s Make A Scene polarized critics because it sounded like a collection of shipped-out dance tunes featuring her voice from an assorted coterie of producers, instead of an album that reflected her own writing and personality.

 

TRACKLIST:
#1. Birth Of An Empire 3:48
#2. Until The Stars Collide 3:39
#3. Runaway Daydreamer 4:00
#4. The Deer & The Wolf 3:54
#5. Young Blood 4:28
#6. -Interlude- 2:23
#7. 13 Little Dolls 3:32
#8. Wrong Side Of The Sun 3:50
#9. Love Is A Camera 4:13
#10. Cry To The Beat Of The Band 3:38
#11. When The Storm Has Blown Over 3:31

 

PERSONNEL:
Sophie Ellis-Bextor: Vocals

 

PRODUCER:
Ed Harcourt

 

DATE OF RELEASE:
20th January, 2014

 

SINGLES:
Young Blood
Runaway Daydreamer

 

In the vein of 60s retro pop, Wanderlust is a return-to-form of sorts, with a much more distinct (and much less ambitious) sound that folks who’ve followed her exploits over the past decade will immediately relate to. And while it may be frustratingly slow in places and a little too liberal with cliches, it is a worthy effort from a pop artist who actually deserves more attention in the press than she gets.

 

The opener Birth Of An Empire is classic chamber pop that grows on you; assisted by the dour string section that adds some much-needed weight to what is still a flimsy political number. While the English singer-songwriter has the requisite image and the talent, she lacks the charisma required to make even the mildest of statements on a political track.

 

The record really only comes alive with the elegant, baroque pop ballad Until The Stars Collide. Highlighted by a swirling string section and punctuated by classic lines of Rickenbacker guitar, Ellis-Bextor expertly balances the matter-of-fact emotion of Diana Ross with the whispery, metaphorical yawn of Annie Lennox. Runaway Daydreamer continues the gentle, retropop vibe that others (looking at you, Lenka) have tried with little success to capitalize on. Plus, its kinda fun to listen to her escapist fantasies about dyeing her hair or changing her name – all in god humor, of course.

 

Occasionally you’ll come across a cringe-worthy track or two. The Deer & the Wolf is little more than soundtrack filler for a run-of-the-mill high school/teen romance flick, and 13 Little Dolls is an upbeat dance-y cut that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

 

The 60s tend to be viewed as a psychedelic era, but really it was the decade that defined modern pop music with its introspective lyrics and melancholic aura. Ellis-Bextor follows this trend to the letter, and it is possible to classify over half of Wanderlust as mildly depressing. After a while, it may actually shock you how different this is from her previous work. Absent are the syrupy love songs or electropop tracks full of good times, made for young people who have a life, not married folks who have to make compromises on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

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