Label: Warp Records Release Date: 22/02/10 Website:Official website MP3: Immaterial Usually, genre-spanning debut albums get cast aside onto the ‘musically confused’ bonfire, their creators deemed to be branded with ‘potential’ and little else. In LoneLady’s case, this would be a tragic mistake. Hearing the opener of Nerve Up, Lonelady’s first full-length release, I was expecting an album of futuristic electro-pop; however, when ‘Intuition’ kicked in, I realised Nerve Up was going to be a much more elusive album to define. To describe this album with one blanket genre would be impossible, unless I made up some ugly conglomerate word to suit Lonelady alone. The upcoming Manchester solo artist has a voice which can move between different styles effortlessly: her slight breathiness is not too idiosyncratic to grow boring, but it certainly has an edge. She can sing with tenderness and feeling like a folkie, in a jumpy and off-tune lilt like an indie kid, or with an alluring cheekiness, like a risqué R’n’B star. While never losing its just-to-the-left-of-pop thread, Nerve Up glides through electro-pop, punk, indie, dance, and even a touch of country blues. If you don’t believe this is possible, listen to the glitzy shimmer of undeniable pop track ‘Immaterial’, next to the gentle yet discordant indie of ‘Have No Past’, before the Cheryl Cole salaciousness of dance track ‘Nerve Up’, each done with similar panache. LoneLady manages to be a woman in music who sounds credible and current without the art school affectation of bands like Bat for Lashes and Florence and the Machine. There seems to be a trend emerging recently: to be taken seriously as an off-the-beaten-track female musician, one has to have stolen Bjork’s stylist, if not a large proportion of her back catalogue. LoneLady seems to favour great hooklines over bizarre imagery and artiness, although there is enough quirkiness in Nerve Up to be charming, with a good balance of electro or drum machine and well-played instrumentation. Some tracks were stand-outs from my first play of the album. ‘Intuition’, LoneLady’s first single, has a killer opening riff, catchy and under-polished to perfection. ‘Immaterial’, for all its glossy pop echo and twinkling electronic noise, is highly compelling, LoneLady’s vocals weaving a beautiful melody with lyrics worth listening to. ‘Have No Past’ begins with a melancholy opening riff, simplistic but perfectly executed, and then moves into a gentle track, made interesting by moments of agreeable discord. The closing track, ‘Fear No More’, could easily veer towards kitsch, with its aching sentiment and violins, but it reins itself in for the simplistic verses, sung over an effective, bluesy riff, and sung with such sincerity that it does justice to the misery conveyed, without seeming too hackneyed. Other tracks work less well: ‘Marble’ is underpinned by a seasick synth which urges the hand towards the ‘next track’ button; ‘Cattletears’ makes use of the indie discord which works so well in ‘Have No Past’, but lacks the charm and catchiness of the latter. My only argument with the quality of the album would be its ability to stay in a CD player for more than a few weeks. Despite its catchy tracks and appeal, it lacks any real depth throughout, and the repetitive rhythms and riffs could get boring over time. There is enough to listen to in each track to play the album a few times, but to be remembered, albums need for the listener to really understand what is being conveyed in the music, or lyrics, and atmosphere to set the album apart from the rest. You can dance, sing and undo the musical layers of Nerve Up, and enjoy it for those things, but I don’t think it will change anyone’s life. Despite that, LoneLady could go far with Nerve Up, a perfect slice of genre-hopping ‘pop’, and I hope she gets the coverage she deserves in order to promote this burst of talent. Photobucket