Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Mabel & Not3s – Fine Line

Swapping feature credits like presents, but we are unmoved.


Thomas Inskeep: Mabel makes good singles. “Fine Line” is good and not quite great, but has a sparkle in its eye, and I bet it’d sound sensational on the radio. Not3s’s bridge is, well, fine — is he the Ja Rule to Mabel’s Ashanti? — but the best thing here, besides Mabel’s own jouissance, is the chorus, which she just nails. The slight Afrobeat helps, too.

Micha Cavaseno: Mabel is about as amateurish a singer as her mother was at her age with about none of the charms or will to adventure. All of her attempts at anything considered popular and slightly ‘urban’ have that distinct sort of contrived quality that you’d find in a Nike advertisement campaign praised for Good Representational Awareness. There’s no doubting that she could grow out of her limitations, become a challenging and inventive artist, maybe stop sounding incredibly pitchy; these are all within her future capabilities! But for now, she’s perfectly mediocre and eagerly rewarded for that as she continues her trend of banal bait ‘tunes.’ Not3s being recruited as her perpetual duet partner/cred stamp is the beneficiary of not so much a chemistry but him continuing to reveal he himself has no real personality or unique characteristics to offer. He’s a living embodiment of “Kojo Funds/Yung Bxne Type Beat” but as a vocal performer. They deserve each other, to be fair.

Alfred Soto: If such a thing as offensively innocuous existed, “Fine Line” would top my list. No melodic or lyrical standouts, no howlers either. Mabel puts in just enough effort. Some kind of achievement!

Katherine St Asaph: The twinkles, evoking Tracey Thorn’s cover of “Get Around to It,” do for “Fine Line” what the Diwali riddim did for the equally workmanlike “Finders Keepers,” although this one gets an extra boost from the Sugababes-y chorus.

Stephen Eisermann: Despite the weird melody and production, Mabel and Not3s manage to evoke the nervousness and infatuation that come from beginning to get involved with someone new. Their voices work well together and the synths and ad-libs on the final chorus give the song some much needed flair, though the rest of the track could definitely use something more. It just feels a bit undercooked. 

William John: Once again, Mabel releases a serviceable, pleasant single that, like both her previous collaboration with Not3s and 2017’s breakout “Finders Keepers,” has achieved a moderate degree of British chart success. I await her “New Rules” moment; “Fine Line” isn’t it, but both the extent of her current portfolio and the contrast provided here between her throaty delivery of the hook and the winking triangle serve as cause for optimism in that regard.

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One Response to “Mabel & Not3s – Fine Line”

  1. This is pretty okay but it’s a shame you guys never reviewed “Thinking Of You”!