Release Date: Apr 20, 2010
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Rock, Pop
VV Brown's debut album opens with a drum roll followed by a ?ngers-caught-in-door yelp, which gives you an idea of what you're in for: theatricality and ?amboyance that make Mika seem introverted. One of the artists tipped in the BBC's Sound of 2009 poll, Brown is a singular character who refuses to be constrained by received notions of how a black female singer should sound. She nimbly skips from 60s girl-group romping (Quick Fix) to Sandie Shaw-inspired melodrama (Back in Time) to pumped-up powerpop (Crying Blood) to rockabilly (LOVE) and sounds entirely assured all the way through.
Its lengthy incubation process notwithstanding, V.V. Brown's clever debut album, Travelling Like the Light, is as genuine, natural, and deep as mishmash throwback pop can get. There are a couple contemporary moments, like "Shark in the Water," featuring strummy verses and a surging chorus, but the album mostly shoots forth nods to R&B and rock & roll of the '50s, '60s, and '70s that are relentlessly playful, whether the lyrics reveal tears, daggers, or butterflies.
England seems to be harboring some secret underground aquifer — one that continues to yield a burbling font of saucy retro-modern R&B chanteuses. Its newest export, Travelling Like the Light, Anglo-Caribbean beauty V.V. Brown, gilds the husky neo-soul of the Duffy/Adele/Winehouse school with her own sunnier, strummier doo-wop moxie. Sometimes she plays the jukebox-sweetheart card too hard, but there’s enough modernity here to save Travelling from tipping into mothballed nostalgia.
While many readers of PopMatters will undoubtedly mourn the death of the album, you can’t help but think that, in some ways, it was inevitable anyway. OK, so the album hasn’t actually died—yet—but the steep rise in the sales of digital downloads over the past few years has put the emphasis back on the singular track, meaning, really, it’s only a matter of time. Why didn’t we see this coming much earlier? The idea of album “filler” has been around ever since the Beatles cut Please Please Me —before that, even.
According to the deluge of fawning broadsheet profiles and fashion mag spreads, [a]VV Brown[/a] is the kookiest, craziest, cleverest thing to happen to British pop since Paul McCartney invented the double thumbs-up. A statuesque Caribbean girl from Northampton with a rockabilly quiff who performs with a ‘real’ band, writes her own brass arrangements and muddies her pink wellies at ‘proper’ festivals, VV is being marketed as the ‘indie’ option in a world of Pixie Lotts. But don’t be fooled.
So where do you go when you've been a backing singer for the Pussycat Dolls? Not straight to the scrapheap but kooky la-la land, it transpires here..