Review Summary: The future of pop music has arrived in the form of a girl with tiny feet.
In early 2009, BBC released their annual Sound Of Music Poll, listing the upcoming year's 15 rising stars to watch. Compiling the thoughts of 130 UK music industry writers and broadcasters, the future sound of music was put to a vote. Atop the list of artists to watch, much in part to buzz created by videos posted to YouTube, was Victoria Hesketh, better known to her growing internet audience as Little Boots. Low-resolution, bedroom webcam clips in which she plays the keyboard and Japanese space-age techno-gadget, the tenori-on, garnered her a flood of media attention and a large internet following, all hoping for the next great thing to happen. And picking her to be it. One of her video clips, titled “Boots got a new toy,”
finds Little Boots in her bedroom playing the keyboard and punching the programmable light-up buttons on her new tenori-on, singing her grapevine hit “Stuck on Repeat”
. She also does covers (and takes requests). Human League's “Don't You Want Me Baby?”
And in tribute to Joe Goddard, the man partly responsible for bringing her to attention, a cover of Hot Chip's “Ready For The Floor.”
An early demo of “Stuck on Repeat”
landed in the hands of Goddard in 2008, delivered through a friend of a friend. The recording impressed him enough to offer his production assistance on the track, as well as another recording, “Meddle”
. With growing momentum, Little Boots music career was further pushed into the spotlight after landing a gig on BBC's music trend-setter, Later... With Jools Holland.
There, she played a piano and tenori-on rendition of “Stuck on Repeat,”
as well as an impressive, multi-tasking performance of “Meddle”
; Complete with piano, tenori-on, stylophone (a mini-synth, played with a stylus – try and keep up) and intermittent hand-clapping. The stage was set for Little Boots to leave the bedroom and conquer the world. The only thing missing: A full-length album.
was released in the UK on June 8th 2009 and is set for US release in late 2009/early 2010. A mixture of mainstream electropop and late '70s/early '80s Italo disco, the album is a polished dance record with high-gloss, modern production techniques. This won't hurt Boots in reaching her seemingly limitless goals, but it does, unfortunately, take away a bit of the wonder-built-from-scratch appeal she had in the YouTube clips and television performances that won her attention and acclaim. The first new single off Hands
, “New In Town,”
is a quality follow-up to the promise of “Stuck on Repeat”
Written during her experience traveling to record in LA, “New In Town”
reflects her time and experience in the West Coast city. A blaring chorus declares the song and the album's intentions: “I'm gonna take you out tonight / I'm gonna make you feel alright / I don't have a lot money but we'll be fine / No I don't have a penny but I'll show you a good time.” “Earthquake,”
the second track and newest single, takes Little Boots to the deepest realms of pop music. The intro and verse sound closer to “New In Town”
than to “Stuck on Repeat”
neither of which hinted at the mega-pop sound Boots has her sights set on. While she has some good influences (Bowie, Kate Bush) and the skills to write and perform all her own material – Little Boots is also strongly rooted in dance-pop culture and possesses the ambition and talent to make herself a self-built Kylie Minogue, or American style pop icon. Several other tracks on Hands make this ambition abundantly clear, with their Ultimate Dance Collection worthy choruses, specifically the internationally charting hit, “Remedy” (UK 6, IRL 5, JP 13)
Album versions of “Stuck on Repeat”
are fully realized, highly-polished adaptations of their original incarnations. While still thoroughly enjoyable and amongst the best on the album, their sound has become so overly crafted and produced that they have a new, less charming appeal than they did when she put the songs together by hand, piece by piece. The polished, packaged versions are very good, but sounded better when they weren't run through so many machines. “Mathematics”
is a quality, mid-tempo dance track that focuses around its math-based lyrical wordplay. Lot's of adding, subtracting and dividing of the heart. On the natural follow-up track, “Symmetry,”
Little Boots is joined for a duet by one of the most distinct voices of the '80s, Phillip Oakley of The Human League. The addiction of a new, familiar vocal is a welcome change of pace. The call/response verse is enjoyable and the chorus is up to standard, but the track as a whole is unremarkable and adds to the slowly growing pile of songs that are not indicative of the best-case scenario Little Boots envisioned by hype.
is an overall enjoyable record, when it's far-reaching pop goals are kept in check. Little Boots needs to find a way to make her mass-appealing electropop, while avoiding her tendency to allow Euro-dance-club influences to become her overall focus or direction. If she can find a way to create a new sound, using modern technology and vintage influences, as opposed to recently manufactured ones, her potential for success and respectability is without limit. The path looks clear for Victoria Hesketh, if she can keep her little boots moving forward - Because Hands
is one step in the right direction and another in the wrong.
"New in Town"
"Stuck on Repeat"