It’s taken six years for Rita Ora to release her second album. Six years that included a very messy, very public breakup with previous label Roc Nation, high-profile quarrels with A-list exes, ventures into acting (a recurring role in the ‘Fifty Shades’ series) and reality television judging (on The X Factor and The Voice). And now, finally, she singer has risen like a phoenix (see what she did with the album name), to release this long-awaited record.
The album’s largely excellent singles have been dropping for over a year, starting with the Ed Sheeran-penned smash ‘Your Song’ which dominated radio play in summer of last year. Then there was the critically adored, double chorus boasting chunk of electro-pop ‘Anywhere’ (which remains the best thing Ora has ever done). Next came the Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX collaboration ‘Girls’, which made the cut on ‘Phoenix’, despite the backlash received when it was first released.
Along the way, there have been team-ups with Liam Payne (on the soundtrack for ’50 Shades Freed’), and Avicii (which was included on the album as a tribute to the late DJ).In fact, by the time ‘Phoenix’ dropped, we had already heard half the album.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: through these stellar cuts, Ora has been able to spend the past 18 months re-establishing herself as a musical tour de force, something the rest of ‘Phoenix’ confirms. The crunching electronics of tropical bop ‘New Love’ are brilliantly good fun, and ‘Only Want You’ is a curiously affecting electro-ballad. Of course there are a few filler tracks that don’t meet the match: a duet with industry darling Julia Michaels fails to reach the highs both women are capable of, and Rudimental collaboration ‘Summer Love’ is a messy mix of Ora’s distinctive vocals and drum and bass drops.
Largely, though, Rita Ora’s album is everything you’d want it to be: endlessly fun, stuffed full of brilliantly left-field production and ear-worm choruses. It may have taken six long years to arrive, but ‘Phoenix’ is Ora’s proof that good things come to those who wait.