It has been two years since the quirky British pop princess has released an album and thirteen years since she first came on to the music scene. However after her recent stint on Strictly Come Dancing, Sophie Ellis-Bextor may have earned herself a new generation of fans with this unique haunting return to the music industry. As an album being released under a lesser known record label, Wanderlust emphasises the song writing ability of Ellis-Bextor with a brooding soulful backdrop.
The album opens with ‘Birth of an Empire’, which has a gorgeous grandeur about it with Ellis-Bextor’s seductive vocals over an almost epic orchestral piece. It symbolises the fact she has now matured as an artist and hints that this is the beginning of a new Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The Brit-pop sounding ‘Until the Stars Collide’ and ‘Runaway Dreamer’ provide a musical juxtaposition to the opening track. They may have the string crescendo, but are ultimately a quirky twist to folk music which fit the individuality of Sophie’s voice perfectly.
The lead single ‘Young Blood’ is a gorgeous romantic ballad, conforming to the characteristics of the perfect love song, with an immaculate melody and heartfelt lyrics. For a lead single, it sets the tone of a romantic album with a difference. It is a simple reflective song which allows her distinctive voice to stand out. There is a touch of Florence & The Machine here, resembling her trademark dark ballads incredibly well. Far away from her usual disco pop hits, this pretty song makes it hard to believe that this is the same woman who once sung about a ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’.
‘13 Little Dolls’ is the most upbeat out of all the tracks and it stands out with its carefree guitar backdrop. It sounds a lot more relaxed and spontaneous than the other tracks despite the hectic guitar thrash playing throughout. Ellis-Bextor’s voice is almost lost yet the song stands out in its elegant lyrical content and competent weilding of quiet and loud. ‘Love is a Camera’ is one of the best songs on the album in terms of songwriting and originality. It tells a story with fairytale elements that comes across as mischievous in parts, elsewhere morphing into some heavy Cossack rhythms. Whatever you think of our generation’s Snow White, that’s ambitious.
The album ends at a highpoint with exquisite ballad ‘When the Storm has Blown Over’. Resembling Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ it is a gorgeous, heart-breaking 3 minute wander. Her sadness appears sincere and yet there is space for the musical quirks, humour and sonic splashes that separate Ellis-Bextor from your average crooner. It may be a complete world away from her early chart smashes, but that doesn’t mean Ellis-Bextor is still not a great British talent. She has focused more on song-writing than disco beats and that has resulted in a great album full of musical surprises.