There’s a lot of talk about conveyor belts in pop music. It’s a fairly straightforward metaphor, denoting mass production, identikit products and a sense that the item being reproduced isn’t really involved in the process. Given the plethora of talent shows that reveal the mechanics behind it all too plainly, it’s easy to see this conveyor belt analogy in even closer detail.
Essex-born Pixie Lott, though not from a TV talent show and certainly not uninvolved in the writing process, seems to take it one stage further and appears to have been created from the DNA of other pop stars. The conveyor belt is not only working; this time it seems it’s also attached to some Frankenstein-esque machinery.
Pixie Lott (she was born as plain old Victoria, but Pixie is crushingly relevant) seems to have been created using strands of Duffy‘s hair, parts of Amy Winehouse‘s record collection and Britney Spears‘ (early) sweetness. This sense of focus-grouped precision extends to the album, which attempts to recreate the vintage pop of the ’60s in a more diluted fashion than even Duffy could muster but also displays how modern it can be by using producers like RedOne, most famous for Lady GaGa‘s Poker Face and Just Dance singles.
It also owes a debt to Winehouse, whose Back To Black album has inadvertently kickstarted the whole retro-soul phenomenon. Unfortunately, where that album was suffused with genuine heartbreak and soul, Turn It Up mostly comes across like a fairly average pop album being strangled by a talented vocalist who equates loudness with emotion. Ballads such as Cry Me Out and Nothing Compares are lost amidst the vocal gymnastics, whilst on the appalling RedOne-produced Here We Go Again she sounds lost doing a (very obvious) Lady GaGa impersonation.
It’s a shame because there are glimpses of pure pop brilliance on Turn It Up. First single and recent Number 1, Mama Do, is feisty, playfully rebellious pop, whilst current Number 1 Boys & Girls is brilliant fun, if slightly unconvincing. There are moments throughout the album that stick in the mind. But they are just that: only moments.
At just 18 years of age and with two Number 1 singles under her belt, it’s obvious that there’s more to come from Pixie Lott. Unfortunately Turn It Up, bar two brilliant singles, just doesn’t stand up to repeat listens. With the influences so transparent, all that’s left when the songs fail is a crushing sense of a cynicism. For all the ’60s pop stylings with a modern twist, there are moments when Turn It Up sounds remarkably similar to another female pop star who tasted success at a young age; Billie Piper. Now, if ever there was a reason to knuckle down on album number two…