Little Boots - Hands

'Hands' is as refreshingly straightforward and anti-elitist as an electro-pop album comes without slipping into Eurovision territory.

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Released 9 Jun 2009 | 679 | By Anna Dobbie | Rating: 3-5
Little Boots - Hands

Little Boots, aka Victoria Hesketh, may look oddly familiar to you - that could be because she was one third of recently deceased electro-rockers Dead Disco, purveyors of such scenester mixtape staples as 'You're Out' and 'The Treatment' and cover girls for ultimate cooler-than-thou fanzine SuperSuper. How strange then that Miss Boots has dropped the riot-grrl attitude and ironically oversized gold jewellery (available in a joke shop near you) to reinvent herself as a cutely quirky contestant for the title for Miss Pop Princess UK. Still, with Hot Chip's Joe Goddard co-producing, recordings by Greg Kurstin, who has previously worked with the likes of Lily Allen, Dragonette and Peaches, she's got a good team behind her, and her win at the BBC Sound Of 2009 poll and BRITs Critics Choice runner-up ribbon have thrown her debut into a burning media spotlight.

Despite her fashionably futuristic facade, 'Hands' is as refreshingly straightforward and anti-elitist as an electro-pop album comes without slipping into Eurovision territory. Opener 'New In Town' drops us straight in at the electrified deep-end with saccharine vocals sprinkled over infectiously hesitant synths, and 'Earthquake' conceals its depressingly twisted lyrics of relationship power struggles under a shimmering, plastic-pop wrapping. It seems natural that she describes her innate romantic sentimentality through musical metaphors, in the surprisingly melancholy 'Stuck On Repeat' and later on 'Tune Into My Love'.

'Remedy' almost pushes a roaring dance verse over the boundary of good taste with a pop-tat chorus but is swiftly followed by 'Meddle', an urgent little chart gem featuring pulsating beats and a Japanese instrument called a Tenori-on that resembles a Gameboy's musical love child. Jaunty 'Ghosts' stands out with its faux-rennaisance tempo and ghoulishly controlled vocals, but unfortunately the simplistic lyrics of 'Symmetry' are classic Clinton's Card fodder and even Philip Oakley's guest appearance can't salvage the song. 'Hands' isn't the most awe inspiringly inventive debut of the year, but it's pleasant enough and should slot in well with the current Lady Gaga/La Roux zeitgeist.