Release Date: Feb 5, 2016
Record label: Sign of the Times
On second album All I Need, Southampton’s Foxes, aka Louisa Allen, manages to pull off pop’s greatest trick; making sadness danceable. An opening trio of fizzing bangers – Cruel’s tropical-tinged lilt, the Bastille-assisted Better Love and Body Talk’s disco swirl – are obvious happy-sad highlights. While the hopeful Amazing offers solace, billowy ballads Scar and Devil Side cement the album’s heartbreak status, anchored by Allen’s surprisingly frayed vocal.
Foxes' All I Need is a refreshing blast of deftly produced, stylish pop. At its best, All I Need is on par with the smarts of Marina and the addictive joy of Ellie, while mirroring the focused vision of Carly Rae. From the double whammy of the two singles that open the album to the stirring numbers that close it, it's a dose of unabashed emotion that never overwhelms with treacle or plastic detachment.
Call this either a blessing or a curse, but no one sounds like Louisa Allen, the musician better known as Foxes, in this current pop music landscape. In this state of affairs, there’s no guarantee this particular feat can be seen as leverage. Having gained widespread recognition after a very successful hit featuring Zedd, the now infamous “Clarity”, Foxes’ 2014 debut Glorious aimed at perfection, perhaps to no avail.
"When I look at you, the drums all start beating," Foxes sings on "Amazing," just before she loses control of her wild heart and a swirl of strings, background voices and handclaps carry her skyward. There's really no fire that Foxes thinks can't be improved by the addition of gasoline. The U.K. singer's second album is full of unabashedly hungry and hurt songs designed for the dancefloor and radio.
In July, Louisa Rose Allen released Body Talk, the debut single from her second album as Foxes. Girly 80s synthpop via driving, handclapping French house, it was one of the best songs of the year. Just as impressive were its lyrics, which saw Allen in the aftermath of a relationship, oscillating between the pull of a lingering, debilitating bond and feelings of euphoric release.
If your first foray into capital-P Pop didn't do as well as your label expected—even though you won a Grammy—how do you bounce back, especially when you’re only in your mid-twenties? Prepped and primed to be a star with "indie" sensibilities, Foxes (aka Louisa Rose Allen) debuted in 2013 with Glorious, a synth-pop record that didn't quite manage to win over international hearts. Though the record and its singles charted decently in the UK, Foxes is perhaps more recognizable when you realize she’s the voice on Zedd’s 2012 pristine EDM super hit "Clarity. " As a solo act, Allen was set to be a low-key star without any fuss; she had the vocal talent without any of the frills of a generic pop star.