XOYO, London, February 27
Sky Ferreira is living proof that one amazing song can turn everything around. Before ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’ hit the blogs last summer, 20-year-old Sky was damaged goods. The LA native first came to the UK in 2010 hyped as ‘the new Britney Spears’, but when the single ‘One’ stiffed at Number 64, her album was scrapped. Things were even worse back in the States, where Sky’s label forced her to release a song called ‘Obsession’ that she not-so-secretly hated. Unsurprisingly, it bombed.
After ‘Everything…’, though, she’s suddenly hot property again, but these days Sky’s got more in common with Solange Knowles than Britney Spears. Like Beyoncé’s little sister, Sky is a pop singer with a slightly dodgy past who gained indie cred when she recorded an undeniably brilliant single with Dev ‘Blood Orange’ Hynes.
Tonight, Sky has attracted loads of hipster kids to the same east London venue that Solange rocked last month, but that’s where the comparison ends. She comes onstage in a mini-skirt and oversized leather jacket flanked by an all-male band, and maybe it’s the way her glossy blonde hair cuts through the stage fog like a halo, but it’s hard not to think “Blondie!” as they launch into ‘Lost In My Bedroom’, tonight’s fizzy, guitar-driven opener. As the gig goes on, she unveils several spunky new tunes, some with echoes of the classic New York band, but she never comes off like a Debbie Harry wannabe. ‘Sad Dream’ shows an entirely different side to Sky: backed by a solitary acoustic guitar, she sings about a rift with a family member, and her tender vocal performance gets the night’s biggest cheers. Another stripped-down tune called ‘Ghost’ is powerful too, while future single ‘You’re Not The One’ sounds like a hit already: imagine a late-70s Bowie track topped with a vintage Belinda Carlisle-style chorus.
The gig ends with ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’. It’s brilliant but sounds like nothing else in her set. Still, if this song turns out to be a Trojan horse, it’s a welcome one because Sky is clearly meant to be the pop star she is now becoming: grungy but glamorous, singing hits with an indie edge that’s sorely lacking from today’s EDM-filled charts.