Katy B – 'Little Red' album review

Dance floor melancholy and rave-pop perfection add up to a storming follow-up by the Rinse FM-backed vocalist



Add +

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Looking back, 2010 was Rinse FM’s year. After 16 years, they finally won themselves an FM licence, while Skream and Benga evolved their Rinse show into a dubstep supergroup, pillaged the Top 20 and bagged a weekly Radio One gig.

Their crowing glory, however, was the result of putting vocals by Brixton girl Katy B on top of an album that was originally meant to be a showcase album for Rinse’s production roster. Validated by Ivor Novello awards, a Mercury Music Prize nomination and Top Ten singles, ‘On a Mission’ inadvertently created a new dance-pop template for the twenty-first century. For a while, it seemed as though Ms B could fart into a microphone and Rinse could turn it into a Top Ten hit.

Three years have passed, and Katy B’s second album sounds less triumphant. ‘Little Red’ is shot through with melancholy – and it’s not always to the credit of the music. For all the whizzy digi-production, launch single ‘Crying for No Reason’ has the waft of a Celine Dion ballad about it, while ‘All My Lovin’ is like a less fun repurposing of Tinie Tempah’s ‘Pass Out’, with a chorus that centres on the repeated yodelling of the word ‘Tony’. There’s also a definite head-slapping moment in the decision to leave the joyous, MJ Cole-produced old-school garage swagger of ‘Blue Eyes’ off the official release (it’s only available on the deluxe edition).

But boy, does ‘Little Red’ manage to scale the heights of rave-pop perfection at points. ‘I Like You’ is a bruising digi-funk workout overlaid with a tale of dance floor flirtation. ‘Tumbling Down’ is all crystalline synth melodies and a pounding four-to-the-floor drop that makes you want to stamp your foot against the ground like you’re perpetrating a cockroach massacre. And in the way that stand-out track ‘Everything’ strafes a hooky R&B vocal with urgent hi-hat hiss and moody deep house groove, you could be listening to Destiny’s Child produced by Julio Bashmore. This, you suspect, may be the sound of Katy B repositioning the future-pop goalposts yet again.

It’s far from the knockabout party larks of ‘On a Mission’, but despite drawing on sadness for its dancefloor energy, ‘Little Red’ continues to fizz over with fresh ideas for urban-pop. Maybe 2014 will be Rinse’s year too?

Buy this album here

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

Listen to 'Little Red' on Spotify

Watch the video for 'Crying for No Reason'

Users say


See Katy B live in London

Katy B and Tinie Tempah to play Notting Hill Carnival with Rinse FM at Rough But Sweet

Ready yourselves for some white-hot, party-shaped news, people: in today's new

Read more music features

John Lydon on butter ads, 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and chimps

Ten things you didn’t know about the ex-Sex Pistol and renegade Public Image Limited frontman

The Libertines on London, their reunion and ‘Anthems for Doomed Youth’

London’s most shambolic band are back with a new album and sense of purpose. We went to shoot the breeze with Pete ’n’ Carl

Courtney Barnett on dreams, ‘fuckheads’ and her guerrilla gig in London

Time Out catches up with the Australian twenty-something who’s conquering the indie world one song at a time

Getting to know Novelist

London’s hottest new hip hop hope is 18-year-old Novelist from Lewisham. Time Out meets the self-professed ‘child of grime’

The five best rap movies

Get ready for ‘Straight Outta Compton’ with the five greatest hip hop films ever made

See all Time Out music features