Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Katy B – Broken Record

Obviously there’s no need for her now Jessie J’s changed everything, but it’s nice to see she’s still giving it a go…


Katherine St Asaph: This is the eightieth time I’ve listened to “Broken Record” in the past two hours. I mirror Katy in the video a bit more each time, you should see me: eyes closed, lips parted, feeling like I should grasp for something. Partly it’s me being ridiculous, but mostly it’s the song: how the percussion speeds up into itself at the beginning, like it’s inhaling, how the melody brushes against the background at just the right points, the 4/4 inevitability of it all. Then how everything falls to a clatter before the choruses, how the kid-like boast of “I tried my best” subsides to a pianissimo “I’d give my heart to you so gladly” as it should, the entire swoon of a bridge, with backing vocals coming in just to flirt with the major key and that eerie ascending swirl toward the end and the total abandonment of rhythm and order. I’m infatuated; all my critical faculties are lost. For instance, I am supposed to point out how objectively slight this is, “Perfect Stranger” drained of decibels and sent floating in from another room. Or how its broken-record motif is both a cliche and dangling, suggesting the speaker wants to be felt up by vinyl. Or failing those, that the video puts Katy in a hotel (?) that’s more like a mahogany cloister, outfitted with a red-carpeted hallway and a secret dance room where the guy stares ponderously at a fucking crimson vortex. But I can’t even do that. Reveries present as archetypes, after all, and then as songs you can’t shake loose.

Jer Fairall: Remember when about a decade ago it seemed like a good idea to do dance remixes of Sarah McLachlan songs? Katy B does.

Alfred Soto: A better-than-average Eurodisco number pokes its head from behind the chassis of adult contemporary schlockarama. Credit Katy’s pipes — blame them too.

Martin Skidmore: I’ve grown to really like her strained high notes — there’s an appealing energy and emotional charge to them. The dubstep/garage backing is lively here too, and it’s got a decent tune and hook too.

Josh Love: This is fine but not nearly as sonically involving as “Katy on a Mission,” which itself wasn’t as satisfyingly bold as that Yasmin track we covered a few weeks back. This is pretty much just a standard-issue club-pop track with pallid R&B vox and a breakbeat in the chorus.

Jonathan Bogart: Is it Stockholm Syndrome, or am I finally beginning to cotton to modern British dance-pop? The ghostly, rushing harmonies make this for me more than the still rather tinny and preset production, but this is the first Katy B set of lyrics that strike me as a song, and not just an attitude copped over a beat.

4 Responses to “Katy B – Broken Record”

  1. I would just like to acknowledge that between this, her blurbs on Vivian Girls and (especially) Born This Way, and her most recent dissection of James Blake, Ms. St. Asaph is on an apparently unstoppable streak of wit, truth, and awesomeness.

  2. Also she used the word “seston”.


  4. (Also, thanks so much! I’m flattered.)