Essex pop star finds her voice on a safe but charismatic debut
Who is Anne-Marie, really? The Essex singer has been in the spotlight since 2013, when she first performed as a part of British dance group Rudimental’s touring band. There were guest spots from her on their second album, ‘We The Generation’, but it was the appearance on Clean Bandit’s mega-single ‘Rockabye’ alongside Sean Paul that propelled her into the mainstream. But that still didn’t mean we knew who Anne-Marie was. ‘Karate’, her 2015 debut single influenced by her childhood success as a champion karateka was a welcome introduction, but failed to outshine those features.
Things have changed now. The 27-year-old has become vocal on the pressures placed on young women, hit out at Theresa May with song politically-charged song ‘Dear Mrs Prime Minister’, and was caught effing and jeffing on Capital FM earlier this year. Singles ‘Alarm’ and ‘Ciao Adios’ are the ones you’ll probably know – the former reached Number 16 and the latter Number 9 in the UK Singles Charts – but the most enjoyable moments are where Anne-Marie really lets us in.
Take Ed Sheeran collaboration ‘2002’, which is propped up by relatable (albeit a little far-fetched) dollop of nostalgia: “Dancing on the hood in the middle of the woods on an old Mustang / where we sang songs with all our childhood friends”. ‘Perfect’, meanwhile, puts her body-positive message front and centre: “I don’t feel like putting makeup on my cheeks, do what I want / I love every single part of my body, top to the bottom”. The real Anne-Marie has stood up.
Beyond her lyrics, though, ‘Speak Your Mind’ fails to leave much of an impression musically. At its best, the album is a selection of polished and inoffensive pop songs, but at its worst, it’s forgettable. ‘Heavy’ feels weightless and anonymous, and the album’s opener ‘Cry’ is a jumble of scattered beats and well-intentioned hooks, none of which quite land the killer blow. When Anne-Marie incorporates her dubstep influences on ‘Bad Girlfriend’ (she’s a big fan of Enter Shikari), she’s at her most intriguing, but these moments are frustratingly few and far between.
Release Date: April 27, 2018
Record Label: Major Tom's / Asylum