Release Date: Nov 9, 2010
Record label: Universal Music
In addition to growing up with Sting, I Blame Coco (aka Coco Sumner) grew up on the music of the Sex Pistols, reportedly memorizing every chord of their catalog by the time she was nine years old. That influence seeps through on the defiant lead single, “Caesar”, which begins with the brash quip, “I want to annoy / And I’m going to enjoy it”. She proceeds to do just that, ironically denouncing the commercialism of the industry she is entering over electronic flourishes and a rugged fuzz bass.
I Blame Coco come by the post-punk, reggae and ska underpinnings evident on their debut album The Constant honestly. After all, the band’s lead singer Eliot Pauline Sumner, a.k.a. Coco, is Sting’s daughter, something that becomes apparent once her smoky, borderline androgynous are heard. Being an alto pop singer already makes Coco something of a rarity among her higher-pitched contemporaries, but her approach is somewhat different as well; neither a ‘60s soul nor a total synth-pop revivalist, she and her band craft something that could be called tomboy pop.
Let’s just get the Sting’s daughter stuff out of the way first. Twenty-year-old Coco Sumner is indeed the fruit of the bass-thumbing Police-man and film producer Trudie Styler’s collective loins. I Blame Coco sees her try her hand at shamelessly retrogressive synth-pop. To her credit she had a hand in writing every track (bar a cover version) although greatly aided by the tutelage of a raft of different producers including Klas Åhlund, the producer of Robyn, who pops up herself having contributed backing vocals to debut single ‘Caesar’.
Coco Sumner has more to prove than most 20-year-old singers releasing their first album: not only is she the offspring of Sting, she's inherited his voice. His voice? She's got everything from the familiar husky exhalations to his penchant for emphasising lines with a startling, top-of-his-register yowl. If she also had the songwriting spark that produced new-wave classics such as Roxanne, this would be one exciting album, but The Constant is essentially a mildly promising debut by an artist who can write a tune but not yet with any great distinction.
Full of youthful enthusiasm and scampering idea-cramming. Sarah Bee 2010 Let's get it out of the way, then: Coco Sumner is the offspring of Sting, veteran pop star and general cultural irritant who'd probably be second against the wall after Bono in the revolution as led by many music fans. Since this mundane fact of DNA is really not relevant in any grown-up discussion of a young musician's debut album, we shan't mention it again.