Look, not every popstar has to be a Beyoncé or a Rihanna: powerhouse superstars with outspoken views and long-awaited bangers, who turn each release into an event. Yet releasing her second album within a week of both of these artists also releasing new material, quiet little mouse Foxes all but flatlines.
It’s been nearly three years since she broke through with a feature on Zedd’s Clarity (and four years since the release of her debut EP ‘Youth’), but what do we really know about Foxes? Sure a quick look on her Wikipedia page tells us that Louisa Allen is 26, from Southampton and chose the name Foxes after a dream her mother had. But what is she trying to achieve with her music? What is her style? What is her USP?
That’s not to say that every popstar should be pigeon holed or reduced to an easily digestible, business-like tick box. For many, genre-hopping is a great strength. Foxes, though, seems to have lost her strength. Her debut album, 2014’s ‘Glorious’ was a great pop album, pairing anthemic choruses with a dark, synthy edge. Much of that has disappeared with ‘All I Need’, an album that withers and shrivels after repeated listening.
It’s especially disappointing, not only after that debut, but because there are flashes of brilliance here. Body Talk is surely one of the best songs Allen has written, with its 80s synth stabs, “la la la” hook, and simple yet effective lyrics about getting over a break-up (“days like these, I just want you back”). It’s vibrant and exciting pop at its finest and, alongside other singles Better Love and Amazing, prove that Allen has a talent for writing bold and catchy little nuggets of hooks. Too often, though, these nuggets are simply repeated for the whole chorus (and usually provide the song title) for better or for worse. On Better Love, for instance, the repeated “show me a better love” gives a sense of yearning desperation, whilst Wicked Love is absolutely irritating and Money has an utterly forced message.
Allen’s failure is in being able to string out these nuggets, not only into three minute songs but across a whole album. If You Leave Me Now, for instance, should be a moving ballad, but despite an emotional vocal the song just lumbers on. And after some early promise – the aforementioned Body Talk and the dance bloops of Cruel - the whole second half of the album just drifts by without making any impact. It’s only when the beat kicks in on Shoot Me Down and Lose My Cool that any interest picks up, but these tracks are relegated to the deluxe version only.
Foxes strikes as one of those nice, pleasant popstars with a genuine talent who deserves to do well. But is nice and pleasant really what you want from a popstar? It’s sad to admit, but ‘All I Need’, with its non-descript production and lack of personality, commits the worst of all pop sins: it’s boring.
* Body Talk
Listen: ‘All I Need’ is available now.