Friday, October 11th, 2013

Lulu James – Sweetest Thing

My love, she throws me like a rubber ball…


Rebecca A. Gowns: This is the song I’ve been waiting for! This is the song we deserve! It has a minimalist structure which builds through tiny layers. The production is the scaffolding for Lulu’s voice; it does not overwhelm or compress. Then there’s a hook! And what a hook! With dreamy electronic sounds propped underneath like pillows! It is not trying too hard to convince us of the dreaminess, or the sweetness — it just is. Lulu’s voice is unadorned and not melismatic, billowing only as she repeats “the end of time, tiiiime.” She makes the word into a bauble and strings it along on a golden thread!

Madeleine Lee: The beat says “now,” and makes me want to loop it on my walk to work all winter long until I get tired and move on to something else; the vocal says “forever,” and makes me want to lip-sync it affectionately at friends on a dance floor at the end of the night before we all hug and go home.

Katherine St Asaph: “The Sweetest Thing” knows what love sounds like in 2013: “Adorn” adorned with the cloud’s favorite sounds: plinking faucets, politely throbbing bass, voices stretched via processing into scrunched bows. And James’ unprocessed voice is rich with emotion, or perhaps just alto — that’s the thing, it’s hard to tell. “It’s nice to hear you speak”; “your delivery expresses how you love me”; “you fulfill my needs” — compliments from an advice column, less intimacy than boundaries, more compassion than passion, less love than convincing herself she can be in love, maybe, because he’s perfectly sweet and why not. It’s Faint Praise: The Song; so it gets Faint Praise: The Score.

Anthony Easton: It seems to be a mark of the times that the tension between non-processed and heavily processed vocals is now used to mark an emotional complexity that reads as its own kind of honesty. This is an excellent example of that, and is kind of desperate/sad in an interesting way, perhaps because I don’t believe how she sings “end of time.”

Scott Mildenhall: Complementing the dark of the seemingly insurmountable “Closer” with an equal amount of light, Lulu James adds another string to her bow, navigating the blurred lines of the platonic and the romantic to create something outright lovely. Here more than ever, her likely unique Geordie-accented electro soul works as pop — this would sound firmly in place on 102.2 The Pigeon. If The People In Charge don’t have her marked for mainstream success in 2014 then they don’t know what they’re missing.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: With this year’s “Closer”, James was introduced to us as utterly focused, standing strong against propulsive beats, her eyes set straight ahead even as she cooed wordlessly. “Sweetest Thing” allows James to waver a little, to keep the BPM pulsating as she softens emotionally. It’s an exuberant display but a half-formed one, purely because the songwriting hasn’t fleshed out the joy into anything structurally strong enough. Despite James opening up, the end result is more confused by its own good mood than stunned by it.

Iain Mew: The huge cushion of bass and softened vocal samples is so sweet and comforting that I want to curl up inside it. When Lulu James sings “It’s nice to hear you speak/Now especially that you’re lying right beside me,” it’s like she has. As a location to stay until the end of time, it’s an appealing one.

Brad Shoup: It’s three-forty-five that sounds like eleven: a genial valedictory tune subverted not by the dual-voiced burble, but by James’s flagpole-rigid delivery. Maybe if she’d run more syllables through her sinuses. But even then, we’d need a weirder message.

Alfred Soto: How can I resist a song boasting the synth bass from Jessie Ware’s “Running”? “Closer” had the same virtue. “Your delivery expresses how you love me,” she says with admirable clarity while synthetic munchkins chirp. Let’s call the delivery and the voice a promissory note and leave it at that.

Reader average: [8] (4 votes)

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