You know it’s a bad sign for pop music when Nina Nesbitt creeping under the radar with her debut album is the most notable mainstream release of the week. So far she’s best known for being friends with Ed Sheeran and supporting his tour, as opposed to her previous (admittedly recognisable) singles – Stay Out peaked at no. 21 - and her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop used on a John Lewis (non-Christmas) advert. Hit singles aren’t exactly her forte.
Nesbitt has so far been marketed very much as a female Ed Sheeran, which in turn makes her the equivalent of a younger KT Tunstall, Amy McDonald or Kate Nash (and not just for her Scottish nationality). ‘Peroxide’ predominantly consists of acoustic folky ballads, with the odd Tunstall-esque rock lick thrown in for good measure on the likes of 18 Candles or We’ll Be Back For More. On the slower songs she certainly lives up to the Sheeran comparison: Bright Blue Eyes could be taken straight from ‘+’, whilst Two Worlds Away is admittedly quite sweet and on Align she does her best Gabrielle Aplin impression. For the most part if you’ve heard those elusive singles you’ve heard the best this folk-by-numbers album has to offer.
Lyrically Nesbitt is aiming towards a conversational style similar to Kate Nash, but alongside the jaunty folk melodies her music comes across as childish. With titles like Selfies, 18 Candles and Not What Your Dad Wants To Know it’s not hard to spot her immaturity before you’ve even pressed play, whilst listening will present clunky lyrics like Mr C’s “I’ve come to the conclusion you’re quite fit, but I’m under no illusion you’re a dick”. And when she’s not singing of teenage clichés, she’s singing of hackneyed musical clichés – We’ll Be Back For More’s “all I’ve got is this guitar, I’ll let it take me near or far”. Nesbitt’s folk is far too polished for such downbeat, whiskey-fuelled notions.
He’s The One I’m Bringing Back is the album’s saving grace. Just as country Taylor Swift leans towards pop, so too does the folky Nesbitt on this funky sing-along track that proves she does have some pop potential. Yet her refusal to swear on the line “I don’t give a fuss” is frustratingly twee, clearly designed to uphold the ‘nice girl’ façade. It’s just one example of Nesbitt’s desire to play it safe in a dull album that lacks youthful charm. Not every teenage album needs to be fuelled by angst, but compared with the precocious Lorde and her laissez-faire cool, Nesbitt’s album is as soulless and bland as the album title would suggest. That she’s duetted with Irish bore-fest Kodaline on Hold You is the final nail in the coffin.
* Stay Out
* Two Worlds Away
* He’s The One I’m Bringing Back
Listen: ‘Peroxide’ is available now.