Album Review: Katy B – Little Red

After her Mercury Award nomination in 2011 for hit debut album On A Mission, things had gone quiet for Katy B in terms of new material, despite her music’s continued popularity during this silent period. However, almost without warning, Katy has returned with sophomore album Little Red which eschews the dub/drum and bass sound that, in vogue at the time, brought her initial mainstream success, in favour of an infectious electronic-pop sound sure to have clubbers frothing at the mouth. Little Red, however, sets itself apart from the swathes of generic electronica that fill the airwaves at present thanks to its willingness to wholeheartedly embrace different musical styles while placing a fresh slant on the genres that distinguished 2011’s On A Mission.
The album’s first single ‘5 AM’ crept in under the radar and climbed to number 14 in the single charts last November, which seems bizarre as it has all the elements of a top-10 chart smash; it’s catchy hooks and hypnotic bassline make it a contemporary clubber’s wet dream. Indeed, Little Red seems to be heavily club-influenced; songs like ‘5 AM’ and lead single ‘Crying For No Reason’, which are distinctly more pop-focused, are juxtaposed terrifically with the more experimental genre-bending songs like ‘All My Lovin’ and ‘I Like You’, and as such the album has wide-ranging appeal to both mainstream and alternative club scenes.
Unable to accept the death of dubstep, Katy B can’t help but underline songs like ‘Tumbling Down’ with the genre’s foot-stomping fundamentals, but manages to keep things fresh with her effortless vocals and, let’s face it, all-pervading sense of cool.; a sense of cool that is only intensified by her attendance at Brit School and her 1976 German Eurovision entering father. The influence of house is also felt heavily, most notably in ‘Everything’ which, for all its dependence on a genre grounded in monotony, manages to set itself apart as both refreshing and immersive.
Every song in Little Red is carefully crafted and controlled which, paradoxically, is what makes essentially each track perfect for such a range of club scenes, which is not to say it is an album reliant on listeners out of mind and body on drugs and alcohol. It is not an album you can ‘be in the mood for’, because there is no singular mood that can be ascribed to it. What makes Katy B so meteorically popular is her ability to gauge the musical zeitgeist at the time and make an album exemplary of this; and this is exactly what Little Red does. While it may not be an album to stand the test of time in the present moment this is irrelevant; as it is it is an album that showcases the best of the here and now and it makes no bones about it.