Album review: VV Brown - 'Travelling Like The Light'

Her rockabilly pop may be jaunty, but it can’t hide a yawning lack of substance

Album review: VV Brown - 'Travelling Like The Light'

3 / 10 According to the deluge of fawning broadsheet profiles and fashion mag spreads, VV Brown is the kookiest, craziest, cleverest thing to happen to British pop since Paul McCartney invented the double thumbs-up. A statuesque Caribbean girl from Northampton with a rockabilly quiff who performs with a ‘real’ band, writes her own brass arrangements and muddies her pink wellies at ‘proper’ festivals, VV is being marketed as the ‘indie’ option in a world of Pixie Lotts.

But don’t be fooled. Even if she wasn’t cooked up in a crisis meeting at Island after Winehouse’s wagon deposited her in a ditch once again – and the suspicion lingers – VV Brown’s irksome brand of ‘doo-wop indie’ is about as substantial as a Dairylea triangle. Most of these songs were supposedly penned in the wake of a painful break-up from a no-good man, so you’d think a title like ‘Crying Blood’ might allow for a little emotion to seep to the surface. Instead, the song sounds like Matt Bianco doing the Time Warp.

Listening to ‘Travelling Like The Light’ is like being trapped inside a ’50s-themed Las Vegas diner where the waitresses do dance routines between doling out cheeseburgers. It’s so unremittingly jaunty it makes Jack Peñate’s debut sound like ‘Unknown Pleasures’. Admittedly ‘Shark In The Water’ is a pretty fine pop song, the ersatz retro window-dressing shoved aside to let a soaring, Xenomania-style chorus burst through. ‘Back In Time’ benefits from a simpler, arrangement, although VV refuses to let up with her constant mugging.

She’s got a bunch of good voices, but not one she could truly call her own. Over the course of the album she goes from Eartha Kitt to Kate Nash and back, in a bizarre performance that seems expressly designed to conceal any hints of her true self.

By the time ‘Crazy Amazing’ comes around, based on that annoying ‘Chopsticks’ tune everyone learnt to play on the school piano, you know who to book should you ever have to organise a birthday bash for a millionaire’s 10-year-old daughter. But unless you’re hyped up on a cocktail of Sunny D and Haribo yourself, you’ll find most of this album very annoying indeed.

Sam Richards

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