In 2013, Southampton songstress Louisa Allen (not to be confused with Lily Allen), most commonly known as stage persona Foxes, became an overnight sensation with the release of her euphoric debut album, “Glorious”. Since winning a Grammy for her “Clarity” collaboration with renown EDM artist Zedd, featuring on Fall Out Boy’s monumental comeback record “Save Rock and Roll”, opening for megastar Pharrell Williams’ Happy world tour, and establishing herself as an ambassador for British pop music – Foxes has catapulted herself to the highest zenith of stardom.
Fresh from British pastures, Foxes joins an influx of emerging home-grown talent in the UK – Dua Lipa, Charli XCX, London Grammar – all producing authentic, glossy, organic, tasteful music. However, unlike the tropically fruitful-sounding stylings of Dua Lipa’s “Be The One” EP and the urban underground pastiche of Charli XCX’s PC SOPHIE-produced “Vroom Vroom” project, Foxes’ musical style is “pop” in its purest form – personal, unapologetic; and without gimmicks – a style that is celebrated on blockbuster-sized singles, “Youth”, “Let Go for Tonight” and “Holding onto Heaven”.
So after the unanimous success of “Glorious”, can sophomore album “All I Need” recapture the magic and originality of her first album?
“All I need” is sophisticated, emotionally captivating and an autobiographical manifestation of dejection and dolour. This is showcased in the form of “Body Talk”; a defiant, electropop classic that feels as vibrant as a 80s neon roller disco. From the plaintive cries of “Days like these, I just want you back, I can’t breathe, I can’t even speak”, with Foxes eulogising the heartbreak from a former relationship; to the single’s dark, dolorous choruses, reminiscent of M83’s “Midnight City” – “Body Talk” is easily a contender for song of the year.
Produced and co-written by Bastille’s Dan Smith, “Better Love” is an oriental-tinged lullaby that is equally as enchanting as it is heart-rending. Confined by the clutches of a haphazard relationship, Foxes harps “I do my best to ease your pain, and here we are, but we’ve learned nothing, and it’s killing me”, as her thoughts of resentment trap her like a silk woven spider’s web. From a dreamy Cyndi Lauper-esque instrumental, to a textured macrocosm of vociferous, big beat drums and atmospheric vocals; Foxes has a gift of transforming misery into melancholic masterpieces.
Another notable moment from Foxes’ second instalment is slinky RnB dancehall groove, “Cruel”. Comprising modern calypso soul with soca, and carrying the 90s nostalgia & club swagger of Missy Elliott’s “She’s a Bitch”; “Cruel” is seductive, beaming with summery hooks, and extremely memorable – possessing all of the qualities of fully-fledged universal floor filler.
Aside from the aforementioned highlights, every track on “All I Need” could enact as a single. With the indie sensibilities of “Wicked Love” and “Lose My Cool”, to the bravura of insipid piano-closer “On My Way”; this album’s succinct songwriting and slick production effortlessly make it a compelling contemporary pop record, cementing Foxes’ status as a world beater.
However, it’s not entirely without faults and flaws. Ballads “Devil Side” and “If You Leave Me Now” lack the emotional trajectory and rawness of previous singles “Holding onto Heaven” and “Glorious”, and, as a result, Foxes’ vocals sound unenthusiastic and dialled in. Upbeat “Amazing” is as uplifting as it is commercially sickening, and “Money” feels like a cheaply recorded Logic project, with lyrics which rehash Jessie J’s “Price Tag”.
To conclude, although “All I Need” is laced in strong melodies and glossy production, it ultimately feels like a collection of songs specifically designed by Syco’s record label for breaking America and gaining commercial radio airtime, rather than a body of songs that adopt the charisma and flair consistently found throughout Foxes’ debut album. Allen is an immensely talented musician, a spine-chilling vocalist and an all-round superstar, making “All I Need” all that more disappointing for failing to leave an everlasting impression.
Written and published by James Macdonald.