Various Artists - Introducing

by Rich Morris Rating:4 Release Date:2011-03-14

This is, apparently, the first in a series of compilations from Universal profiling emerging talents across its various imprints. As a start, this collection is a little on the wobbly side. The first three tracks all suffer from the same problem. Jamie Woon's 'Night Air', 'Punching in a Dream' by The Naked & Famous and 'Ain't Nobody' by Clare Maguire all feature polite but perfectly likeable electronic production. Woon's is a skilful mix of dubstep and minimalist electronica, TN&F deliver pumping synth-rock and Maguire goes for soulful sounds. However, all three also feature vocal styling which could described as 'stage-school': blustery, show-boating, unnecessarily fiddly singing which detracts fatally from the music.

On to fourth track 'Limit to Your Love' by James Blake, which is one of the more soporific, dinner party soul numbers from his recent self-titled album. The following 'Listen to Your Love' by Mona is just shit. It sounds like The Stereophonics. By now, it's becoming apparent that Universal might want to introduce us to their new talent, but they don't want to risk scaring us off with anything too edgy. It's also a little dubious how much here can really be called new. Are The Bees new? Are White Lies new? Come to that, are White Lies talented?

So on it goes. The Pierces' 'Love You More' is overwrought country-rock balladeering. 'Mayday' by Tinashe, bafflingly, mixes autotuned vocals with piano tinkling, before expanding into lumpen R&B. In such uninspiring company, the passable new wave punk-funk of 'Orbiter' by Alice Gold and the derivative but well-formed 90s rock sound of Yuck's 'Georgia' are veritable explosions of creative daring. The compilation rounds off with 'Up All Night' by Alex Clare, which sounds like Shaggy pursuing an ill-advised rap-rock direction and is truly hideous, and 'Do It Like a Dude' by Jessie J which has already got plenty of exposure so, despite being released this year, doesn't feel very new. It's also not very good, although it is at least fun in comparison to what's gone before.

I'm in doubt that Universal is squiring some genuinely interesting talent at the moment, acts who have the potential to jolt music somewhere interesting. Let's hear some of them on Introducing 2, please? This is just too safe and too poor.

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