While it may be lazy, and no doubt, sexist to start throwing Lily Allen comparisons at Eliza Doolittle, it’s pretty much unavoidable at first listen. And when you discover that her grandmother is Sylvia Young, she of the legendary stage school, some cynical alarm bells may start to ring.
Yet that would be rather unfair to the Camden girl who was actually born Eliza Caird. While she certainly follows the Allen template of cheeky, bright pop songs with a twist, there’s a lot more here than a stage school alumnus trying to become famous.
For a start, she has a strong voice. In fact, on jazzy ballad A Smokey Room, she sounds a dead ringer for Adele. Yet even on her poppier tracks there’s a vibrancy and strength to her vocals that mark her out from the rest of the crowd.
The vast majority of tracks on this debut album are airy, reggae influenced pop songs – sometimes, they work brilliantly, as on Skinny Genes, which is devastatingly catchy, features rather saucy lyrics (“I really don’t like your skinny jeans, so take them off for me…show me what you’ve got underneath”) and even includes a healthy bout of whistling. It all add up to perfect summertime listening.
Pack Up is equally delightful, having the balls to base the chorus on 1930s marching song Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag while remaining utterly contemporary. It’s so infectious that you don’t notice that Eliza even starts to tweet halfway through, without sounding (entirely) ridiculous. Moneybox features a skanking melody and topical lyrical references to the recession, while Missing has a nicely unsettling ’50s doo-wop style introduction.
But there’s also a fair bit of filler, as is to be expected with a debut album, and its style does tend to grate after a while. Mr Medicine has the unfortunate side-effect of recalling Natasha Bedingfield and a lot of the songs here seem to mesh into one another. Only the aforementioned A Smokey Room and on the brilliant So Long are different styles explored – the good news is that Eliza sounds more than at home on these sort of songs, which should bode well for her long-term future.
Ultimately, this is a nice, pleasant debut album which will make the perfect accompaniment to a fair few summer barbecues this year, but which may not be listened to much once the grey skies and dark nights of October are upon us. There’s enough promise here to prevent Eliza Doolittle being dismissed as another Lily Allen clone.