Hype implies something more

Hype implies something more

Clare Maguire's debut album Light After Dark was highly anticipated - BBC and MTV critics tipped the English singer-songwriter as one of the voices of 2011. These R&B- and hip-hop-infused tracks leave no doubt as to the strength of her vocals, but with all the hype, listeners deserve more.

Opener Are You Ready? introduces Maguire's vocals over ethereal synths and a slightly gothic vibe. Clocking in at under a minute, the track whets interest; but the unique sound never really recurs, so the disc lacks continuity.

There is a startling break into bright strings on the second track The Shield and the Sword. But Maguire adds a dark edge to this defiant break-up song, belting out, "I'm not afraid of danger in the dark, I no longer love you."

Lacklustre lyrics aside, the 23-year-old's mature voice is appealing when coupled with pulsing beats and striking piano hooks. Songs like I Surrender have all the promise of a new Fleetwood Mac or Annie Lennox number (both said to be influences). Standout track The Last Dance was written in memory of Michael Jackson.

While she is good at being bold, Maguire has little emotional subtlety. And although she sings "We're not trying to be clever/ We're not trying to be cool" in the title track, she seems to try hard to be both. She has the voice to be unique, but is ultimately let down by the songs she sings.

YP Rating: 3/5

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