Few starlets have ever had a name as fitting as Pixie Lott, the teenage thrush whose debut, Turn It Up, turned her into something of a European sensation in 2009. Lott does indeed possess no small measure of mischief, blatantly lifting phrasing from Beyoncé, Rihanna, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and Joss Stone in equal measure but getting away with her magpie act through the sheer impish force of her personality. Of course, she’s assisted by a strong set of songs, several co-written by Lott herself, that walk a line between classic and contemporary, a divide reminiscent of Mark Ronson productions, sometimes bringing to mind a lighter, brighter Back to Black. Despite this fondness for swinging girl group sounds and Pixie’s predilection for belting out the songs, Turn It Up doesn’t play as a retro-soul throwback, the way Winehouse or Duffy do. Lott never attempts to seem wiser than her years, not even during the mellow funk vamp of “The Way the World Works” or the Carole King groove of “Jack,” and the production is wisely, slyly modern, playing with Auto-Tune on “Gravity,” allowing Pixie to mimic Beyoncé’s attack on “Band Aid” or groove on the irresistible “Shut Up and Drive” rewrite “Turn It Up.” Sonically, it’s just enough of a twist on tradition to be familiar, and fresh enough to be considerably appealing, as is Lott herself. Blessed with little of the showiness affectations of the X-Factor/American Idol generation, she can sell a song and inject it with age-appropriate enthusiasm that sustains her through the moments when Turn It Up glides by on its surface, while making the album -- at its best -- pretty damn infectious, too.
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