Speed Ballads

Our rating:

It doesn't take a Pop Svengali to figure out that if an artist wants to change direction, the transition generally runs more smoothly if they haven't previously promised lifelong dedication to the gen

IT DOESN’T TAKE A POP Svengali to figure out that if an artist wants to change direction, the transition generally runs more smoothly if they haven’t previously promised lifelong dedication to the genre they’re now eschewing. But such is the [I]volte-face [/I]performed by DJ Rap on her debut album, as the ex doyenne of jungle becomes…

…A desperate, rasping take on Madonna when singing and an industrial rave goth at almost all other times. Since she’s seldom inclined to let the rhythms get rapid, it’s not until the fourth track, ‘Beats Like This’, that serviceable but unsensational d&b makes an appearance, and it remains an infrequent visitor from then on.

Elsewhere, ‘Learning Curve’ seems hellbent on being one of this year’s underground-to-overground surprise hits. Hence a meticulous study of Prodigy-style phunking doubtless led to tracks such as ‘Audio Technica’ and ‘Bad Behaviour’ – only for them to emerge with a lumpish grind rather than dashing, stadia-primed appeal. As for the downbeat tunes like ‘Ordinary Day’, you can almost hear the hankering for a Mercury Music Prize nomination amid the perfunctory melancholy.

Then there’s the lyrics: ostensibly focusing on her struggles in the music industry, hopes for the future, lurve-related quandaries and – gosh – inner turmoil, they actually come over as a detailed examination of how many platitudes it’s possible to cram onto one long-player. Which evidently is a lot, if you really dedicate yourself to the task.

That ‘achievement’ aside, this is as imperfect as its thoroughly apologetic title advises.