As immediate as undiluted Ribena, breakup bops mix with sentimental ballads on a collection that is absolutely not a concept album
Firstly some bad news: you and Amelia, stage name Mimi Webb, are breaking up. She has completely got over it on The Other Side, is then angry enough to commit arson on House On Fire, and has become downright doleful by Last Train To London. For all we know these could be different break-ups – in the UK one may never be more than six feet away from Mimi Webb breaking up with someone. But Amelia – titled after Webb’s first name – isn’t a concept record in the slightest, instead it’s 12 pristinely-written tunes, eight of which are about break-ups (another two about rocky relationships) and despite the personal implications of the album’s title these lyrics are defiantly general.
Predictably the big guns come out on the singles. Cirkut, fresh from working on Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ iconic Unholy, brings some syncopated bass hits and crisp cello plucks to Red Flags, while electro-pop stalwart Stuart Price gives Ghost Of You’s vocal leaps and quaver rhythms an appealing new wave sheen. The record’s songs are less than three minutes long on average, and the brevity of the streaming era means that by the second hook Webb is glancing furtively at the exit. This mostly fits with the aesthetic of punchy, unsubtle pop, but on the closing track the refreshing introspection could have used at least another minute to develop.
Webb is certainly a pleasant singer, her voice sounding like a less babyish Tate McRae, and she is adept at selling both the peppy toplines of Freezing and the balladic hook of Roles Reversed (“I found you low with your face in the dirt / and darling I swore I’d be there at your worst / now you’re moving on and the tables have turned / and I’m just as broken as you were at first / so when was the moment that the roles… reversed?”). Further down the tracklist, Is It Possible shoots for something a bit more anthemic, going so far as to incorporate a guitar solo, while Remind You works through a knotty melodic sequence and contemplative chords that make this reviewer long for a Deadmau5 remix circa 2009.
Making a value judgement on Amelia is a tricky business, it being as immediate as undiluted Ribena. However, the album knows what it wants to do and pursues this with relentless efficiency, and with her April UK tour completely sold out ahead of its release, hopefully furthering the career of its titular heartbroken heartbreaker in the process.