Rating: 5 / Format: CD/LP / Label: 679

Crippled with overexposure by certain factions of the media for whom the combination of pretty blonde and a Tenori-on was like black tar opium to recovering junkies, Victoria Hesketh’s debut album has arrived. With a background in electro-pop outfit Dead Disco, she is prettier than La Roux, less grotesque than Lady Gaga, and has better luck than Annie. In short, Hesketh’s the safe bet for the coming summer of synthpop fatigue.

Sadly, ‘safe’ is an adjective that keeps springing to mind throughout the course of Hands. Early indications suggested that here was a pin up for the geeks, a girl who knew her way round a mini-moog without being hideous. And yes, ‘Stuck On Repeat’ is a rewarding, slightly skewed pop nugget whose glitter stomp pulsates its way to the jouissance of the chorus’ widescreen breakdowns. But sadly, elsewhere the sound of ground breaking is drowned out by the glut of overproduced Xenomania-style pop that could have been fronted by anyone: ‘New In Town’ has that sultry Girls Aloud beat-driven, high calorific synth sound that has become the musical wallpaper for chain pubs across the country while ‘Hearts Collide’ is a poised melancholic tribute to destructive love that is remarkable by showing that, even in a world that houses Danii Minogue, the competition to be rip off Kylie can so easily be won.

All this is a shame, because there are flashes of quirky brilliance and wit amongst the prefab pop that mostly comprises this album. ‘Meddle’ is a paranoid clatter of modulating synths and guttural bassline that recalls the accessible experimentation of Hot Chip while ‘Ghosts” staccato music box melodies and tin drum percussion is played out against a backwards piano that proves that all that dicking about with a sequencer wasn’t just for the photoshoots. More of this could have marked Hesketh out as a truly exciting prospect; instead, Hands simply succeeds in making all those accolades look hideously premature.

Louise Brailey

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