Available on: Columbia
Are we all agreed – Katy B is our best pop star? She effortlessly links underground club music and Heart FM. She writes songs that you can hum in a voice that you recognise straight away with clever lyrics that put new twists on love, life and dancing. She set the stage for the current house revival, and quite possibly had the only ever real UK funky hit (‘Lights On’ is UK funky, right?). She’s funny, cool and that slipperiest of pop star qualities, “real”. She gets her inspiration from walking her dog round Nunhead Cemetery. What, seriously, is not to like?
The only problem is that she doesn’t leave much for a critic to do. Her formula wasn’t broken, so she didn’t fix it, and here we’ve got 12 more songs that you can hum, sung in a voice that you recognise straight away, with clever lyrics that put new twists on love, life and dancing. Just like On a Mission, there’s a couple of pop-dubsteppy tracks (‘Tumbling Down’ and the high-drama ‘All My Lovin’), a hands-in-the-air breakbeat rave track (‘Emotions’) and lots and lots of house tracks. Brilliant house tracks, in fact, especially the amazing ‘I Like You’ and ‘Aaliyah’ with Jessie Ware.
This time there’s a bit more ’80s pop (‘Still’ could be an 80s movie love theme, and ‘Crying for No Reason’ sounds like prime Madonna), and something a bit jazzy-funky (‘Play’ with Sampha), too. Some of the house beats on their own would sound a bit ordinary in this post-Duke Dumont, post-Hot Creations world, but she makes them interesting, just by being Katy B on them. Yes, we’ve heard some of this stuff before – ‘Aaliyah’ was given away more than a year ago! – but it all works in context, it doesn’t get boring, you’ll quite often want to press replay. In short, this album holds together even better than On a Mission, and Katy B is still our best pop star.