Friday, 30 August 2013

Alexandra Burke - #NewRules

This fashion for naming music with a #tag needs to end. Now.

That said, 'New Rules' is a fitting title for this latest EP of songs from X Factor alumni Alexandra Burke - conveniently released just before the start of the new series.  Earlier this year Burke parted ways with record label RCA Records over "differing views" on the direction of her third album.  RCA probably wanted another album of EDM bangers.  Judging by the slow-burning tracks on 'New Rules', Burke clearly had other ideas.

Burke is wholeheartedly one of the more deserving winners of the X Factor, but it takes a whole song before we get to actually hear her sing.  Instead, opening track Leave A Message is a series of voicemails from various personalities - from Heart FM's Jenny Francis, to Aston from JLS.  It's ridiculous, but also a middle finger to RCA - she's got plenty of support without her label.  I wonder how much O2 paid her...

It's followed by a cover of Coldplay's Fix You.  If X Factor is ever accused of overdoing it, then this is a prime example: the minimal backing allowing Burke's riffing and trills to hit home.  It's almost as bad as Hallelujah.

And then there's a change, with four brand new tracks.  The first, Day Dream, is a traditional 90's R&B jam about Burke's relationship with ex Jermain Defoe.  It's hardly subtle ("What was you thinking at the time when you decided to sleep with her? It didn’t stop there, yes I know, the papers fucking told me so") and Burke drops a couple of f-bombs, but it also includes the incredible lyric "drink every day, lost my best friend, but I replaced you with Merlot".  It makes Elephant look like child's play.

Next up is Seduce You with Wretch 32, a dark, moody track on which Burke seductively coos "there's nothing under this robe".  It's certainly a change of pace from 'Heartbreak On Hold'.  Then there's the reggae dancehall of Bounty Hunter, on which teeth are kissed and bootys are twerked (probably).  Last up there's Try - a more traditional ballad that feels far more sincere than Fix You.

With such differing styles, who knows which direction the full album will take.  It's clear, though, that Burke wishes to be taken more seriously as an artist - a brave and welcome change that's somewhat undermined by the silly #. OKdotcom?


Listen: 'New Rules' can be downloaded from Burke's Soundcloud page (or below).