Valerie Perkins, under the nom de plume of Valley Girl, has dispensed with the attention of the men-in-suits and balance-sheet record execs, and launched an album all on her own. Albeit with the aid of some famous and not-quite-as-famous knob-twiddlers.
There ain’t nothing wrong with the do-it-yourself ethic. We all know that parking your arse in a office all day clock-watching isn’t necessarily gonna shake the world to its armpits and bring civilisation on, or even behind, a notch or two.
However, in a crowded marketplace, quality counts in large amounts. And plucky amateurs need to have some degree of ramshackle charm or singularity of vision to get noticed. Sadly, Valley Girl’s debut Glamorous World doesn’t really show either.
It’s difficult to find exactly what constellation Perkins imagined her Glamorous World revolving in. Much of the album is House-lite, tastefully-lit bar fare, neither subtle enough to strain a curious ear to, nor busy enough to intrude on wine-fuelled fat-chewing over property prices, carbon footprints and the merits of prospective England managers.
And then there are times (particularly on Cartoon Pictures) where Perkins is recast as PJ Harvey‘s bandwagon-jumping little sister. But where Somerset’s finest often sounds as if she’s howling lonesome under a baleful moon, Ms. Perkins just sounds as if she’s getting over a particularly troublesome hangover.
Given some of the hired help, it’s also doubtful whether Perkins’s beginner’s status is truly ironclad. Some networking must have taken place to enlist the aid of 7Hurtz‘s Lascelle, Position Normal‘s Chris Bailiff, and more notably, the DFA duo of James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy.
Despite their input, much of Glamorous World gets lost in a forced desire to offer some sensual underpinning to all the retro-Housiness. Perkins’ own voice lacks the depth to drag the studio-bound treatments up a notch into any level of absorption into her muse.
Compare this album to Maurice Fulton and Kathy Diamond‘s masterful rediscovery of House’s soul-edged capabilities on this year’s Miss Diamond To You, and the difference is a big as the nose on yer face. Particularly if you’ve got a really big hooter.
All that said, the presence of the LCD Soundsystem on Power To You Child and Dizzy Star does manage to drag Glamorous World away from the rather grumbly atmos. Amazing what a few uplifting key changes can do.
Without their help, the only time the album really hits the mark is on the slinky paean to submission, Addicted. Carried away on some buzzing Beloved-like b-line’s, for once Perkins doesn’t sound outgunned by the arrangements, and out-of-place with all the digital bleaching.
Ultimately, Glamorous World is one for the LCD completists.