One of the few viable pop stars to emerge from the dubstep scene, Katy B appealed to both clubbers and homebodies alike with a strikingly self-assured debut pitched perfectly between the charts and the London club scene. But no longer the teenage party girl, her second studio effort, Little Red, is a much more introspective affair which largely abandons her bass-heavy roots in favour of a shimmering electro sound, bringing to mind Adele as remixed by Disclosure.
Indeed, there’s a certain 21 feel to the wave of emotionally-charged dance-ballads which bring the follow-up to 2011’s Mercury Prize-nominated On A Mission to a surprisingly melancholic close. The current single “Crying For No Reason,” a towering fusion of strobing synths, clattering percussion and soaring melodies, also possesses the same magnetic soul-baring quality as “Someone Like You.”
Even when Katy B takes the tempo up a notch, she manages to weave in the kind of compelling narrative usually absent from such a hedonistic sound. Taken from 2012’s equally inspired Danger E.P., “Aaliyah” is a sensual slice of old-school house which positions Timbaland’s protégé as a rival for a DJ’s affections in a clever 21st Century update on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” Elsewhere, the flirtatious “I Like You” sees her vainly attempt to keep her desires in check against a hypnotic backdrop of pulsing hi-hats and grimy synths.
Little Red still has its pure floorfilling moments. Opener “Next Thing” is an affectionate and authentic pastiche of an early 90s club classic which could be mistaken for Technotronic. The brooding Joker-produced “All My Lovin’” and the nocturnal vibes of “Tumbling Down” see her return to Rinse FM territory, while the effortlessly slinky “5AM” is an anthemic tale of a Saturday night out that ends in tears.
While Katy B has been previously hailed as the Queen of Dubstep, the rich palette of club sounds on Little Red means that she can now take her rightful place as the Queen of Dance Music in general.