Second album from London-based singer features some great songs but struggles to shake off a confused, thrown-together aesthetic
British pop in 2022 has a rather disjointed quality – artists like Harry Styles, Adele and Ed Sheeran are global stars and their music reflects this, while a cottage industry of smaller acts do more to shape the median listening experience and become part of the country’s cultural ambience (see June’s Diamond Jubilee concert for example). About Last Night… , the second album by Mabel features some great songs courtesy of an A-list creative team – MNEK, Stargate, Rami – as well as some musical troughs and a confused, thrown-together aesthetic.
Let Them Know is an enjoyably campy first single, featuring a Disclosure-lite house groove and a dollop of sass (“I got a new man in my business / and he all about his business / and his name is none of your business”), while Shy throws the kitchen sink at American R&B as Mabel makes her advances. Fans of kremlinology will note that RAYE has co-writes on about half the album, and several songs could have easily been sung by her had she not acrimoniously left Polydor last year, possibly freeing them up for this record.
About Last Night… opens with its worst song, as Animal makes a big messy noise without anything memorable. The problems with this song don’t stop at the artistic level either, as poor mastering gives it a crushed, tinny sound which also plagues the otherwise solid Definition. Overthinking aims for that punchy uptempo ‘80s sound but forgets the punch, while Let Love Go assembles a veritable army of writers and producers to create the most insipid hook of the year so far.
The album rallies later on, as I Love Your Girl and When The Party’s Over are impeccable tunes that more than deserve their place, but Mabel’s dedication to the pure pop that gave her big hits in 2019-20 is now threatening to leave her somewhat faceless.