Album Review: Cocknbullkid - 'Adulthood'

Ms Blay’s long-awaited debut finds her identity by giving her dark core a clever, colourful makeover

Album Review: Cocknbullkid - 'Adulthood'

7 / 10 When we first clapped ears on CocknBullKid (née Anita Blay) in 2007, we noted her “Freudian kitchen sink dramas and minimal Kelis-like beats”. In the context of the glorious Day-Glo belch of new rave, she was uniquely clinical and creepy. Early songs like ‘The Vote’ unfurled with a dark alchemy that shared with Missy Elliott a desire to push R&B somewhere odd and unfamiliar. 

Over the following four years, the difficult birth of 2011’s ‘Adulthood’ saw the adoption of some ill-fitting musical guises. There was the electro ingénue (2008’s ‘On My Own’) and then the wordy ball-buster (2009’s ‘I’m Not Sorry’), both almost self-consciously bland, like the act of someone going through an identity crisis, ground down by school bullies, trying to be normal. It brought to mind a line by Blay’s hero, Madonna: “When you’re trying hard to be your best/Could you be a little less?

‘Adulthood’ finds Blay back on track, finding her oddness through a flick-book of intelligent pop references, while the likes of Metronomy’s Joe Mount and All Saints’ Shaznay Lewis have assisted her in wrapping up all that darkly sarcastic self-loathing in a sparkling bow.

The highlights come in the first half: the title track wraps a bass-heavy Aaliyah-like beat over lines like “My mother turned my father into every guy I dated”; ‘CocknBullKid’, like a speedy rewrite of Kate Bush’s ‘Suspended In Gaffa’, is full of joyous, self-referential wordplay (“Her words are made of glitter/She’s a bullshitter”).

Things get sickly sweet during the second half; the twinkly pianos on ‘Asthma Attack’ and ‘Bellyache’ feel like overdosing on leftover Easter eggs. Despite this, you’re left very aware that it’s still smarter and more exciting than 99 per cent of the Top 40. And that’s a pretty big victory in itself.

Priya Elan>/i>

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