Take a traditional female pop singer, pare back the dance moves, the large personality and the clean piano/guitar sound and add some minimal electronic accompaniment. This seems to be the approach behind a new wave of female solo artists. Fitting this bill is English singer-songwriter Kyla La Grange, who released her album ‘Cut Your Teeth’ earlier this summer as a follow up to 2012 debut ‘Ashes’.
Right from the start La Grange leads with her quavering, smoky vocal. Titular opening track Cut Your Teeth is slow-building and quite catchy, with little more than vocals, a simple synth loop and bare percussion for most of the track.
As the only single to chart it’s interesting that it has just done so in countries like Denmark and Sweden, which are more predisposed to this type of synthpop than the UK or Ireland.
Most of the songs on offer are quite steady-paced and temperate — it’s an album that seems to roll back into itself.
Though consistent in its sound and production, it can be hard to pick out high points from this uniform, unvarying soundscape. I Don’t Hate You is one of the few songs to protrude from the track list, borrowing a hip-hop rhythm in the crashing beat of the verse, but again rolling back into the symmetrical synth sound for the chorus.
In second single The Knife, we get a proper glimpse at La Grange’s lower-register, which actually has a nice broad tone. However, quickly afterwards she reverts back to the safety of her falsetto, where she hides for too much of the album.
Though ethereal at times, her voice can be too delicate, sounding restrained and lacking power. Where singers like Florence Welch can embrace the mystical just as much as La Grange, colouring their songs with dainty notes and runs, they can also belt it out when necessary. We never see if La Grange is a bird of this feather as she never reaches a powerful vocal moment in her tracks.
Vocal qualms aside, ‘Cut Your Teeth’ is still a decent album. The problem is you may find yourself trying to like it more than you actually do. You’ll tell yourself that it’s catchy and sophisticated, and La Grange is a new-age (synth-)popstar. You’ll applaud the simplified electronic sound and soft incessant beats. But you might not find yourself listening to it this time next month.