I reviewed Keaton Henson’s latest album for Epigram.
Crippled by anxiety and loneliness, Keaton Henson’s debut album Dear… chronicled the break up of his first serious relationship. Although Henson’s debilitating stage fright meant that he avoided live shows, he built up a loyal, almost cultish following on the internet. Henson now seems to be emerging from this gloomy period, slowly putting on more gigs and featuring in more video and radio sessions. This new-found optimism is displayed on his new album too, from temporarily falling in love on the tube (‘The Best Today’) to the surprising raging guitar on ‘Kronos’. The intense darkness of Dear… hasn’t completely disappeared, however. ‘I’d kill just to watch as you’re sleeping’ (‘10am, Gare du Nord’) shows that Henson still teeters between endearingly romantic and creepily obsessive. Henson’s voice trembles through a range of emotions as the album progresses, at times imploring, ‘please do not hurt me love/I am a fragile one’ (‘10am, Gare du Nord’) to protesting ‘And God! You were the one who told me not to be so English!’ (‘Sweetheart, What Have You Done to Us?’). With the sensitive addition of more instruments, and backing vocals by Jesca Hoop, Henson stands out from other, more conventional, singer-songwriters.
This week, I’ve been making full use of Spotify’s ‘Related Artists’ tab. To break up listening to Usher’s Climax on repeat, I’ve travelled through Destiny’s Child’s back catalogue, the collective works of N Sync and Justin Timberlake and into the dark corners of one-hit-wonders. This has uncovered some classics that you had probably done your best to forget about, but upon listening to them again, memories of childhood crushes, old TV programmes and forgotten dance routines will no doubt come flooding back.
1. BBMak – Back Here
Clever readers will clock the Millennium Wheel in the background, which didn’t open to the public until March 2000, however Back Here was originally released in 1999. Spotify’s biography fo BBMak describe them as ‘England’s answer to the Backstreet Boys’ however, unlike the Backstreet Boys who are currently touring the world with New Kids on the Block, BBMak went their separate ways in 2003. Wikipedia reports that Mark Barry is now working as a personal trainer in Bolton.
2. Adam Rickitt – Breathe Again
In 1999 Coronation Street star Adam Rickitt signed a 6-album deal with Polydor. Breathe Again was his only hit single, peaking at number 5 in the singles chart. His debut (and only) album, Good Times, reached number 41 in its first week of release, and subsequently fell out of the charts and Rickitt was dropped from the label. In 2011, People reported that Rickitt was working for the RSPCA as a capital appeals manager. The interview is quite a read.
3. Honeyz – End of the Line
Honeyz were one of those 90s girl groups that wouldn’t have existed were it not for the success of Destiny’s Child and the Wonderbra. End of the Line was their second release, which reached number 5 in the UK singles chart in 1998. In 2005, the band briefly reformed, and competed in ITV’s one-hit-wonder contest, Hit Me, Baby, One More Time, where they performed a cover of Nickelback’s How You Remind Me which is not dissimilar to the version that I sing in the shower sometimes.
“I’m not in this for money or fame, I’m purely in it cos I love making music,” Coco Sumner told the Telegraph earlier this year. Of course she is. As the daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler, Sumner had a life of luxury and celebrity presented to her on a silver platter. But don’t let that, or the fact that she’s a 20 year old who models for Burberry and regularly sits in the front row at London Fashion Week, cloud your judgment of her band, I Blame Coco’s, debut album The Constant. Sumner wants you to forget everything you know about her upbringing. All you need to know is that she was discovered by an Island Records A&R man at an intimate gig in a North London barbershop. Which is all very well and good, until you press ‘play’. Closing your eyes, you could be listening to a pubescent Sting, voice-mid-breaking, still toying with song writing and coming out with absurd lyrics such as ‘he’s going to a land where mice grow on trees’. In fact, Coco Sumner has been honing her composition skills since she was ‘about 13’, and has been playing various instruments since she progressed from SMA to cow’s milk. Sumner’s genetic make-up is particularly evident on ‘No Smile’ where she declares she ‘promised I would constantly love you/until the day I die’ to a syncopated, Police-inspired beat. After an eye-opening pilgrimage to Sweden (Abba is Coco’s guilty pleasure), the band travelled to Jamaica to record the album, despite Sumner claiming to have abandoned her early ska-influenced style. The outcome is certainly less Kingston, Jamaica and more Kingston-upon-Thames. That’s not to say it’s completely dire. Regular Radio 1 listeners have probably already found themselves humming along to ‘Caesar’, featuring Swedish pop princess Robyn, which is far removed from the tedious beats that Greg James et al play 24/7. After all, you wouldn’t hear JLS chanting ‘It’s the Lord of the Flies all over again’. ‘Quicker’ seems set to follow in this success, with its ‘80s influenced keyboard and synths, whilst ‘Please Rewind’ will doubtlessly appear on the next 90210 soundtrack, and before you know it, Sumner will be the most successful Coco in America since Hershey bars, and teens across the world will be emulating her greasy, Patti Smith-esque locks.
From Issue 230 (8/11/10) of Epigram, Bristol Uni’s student newspaper. To read the rest of the Music section, click here.