Of all the crossover artists to have emerged from the dubstep scene over the last few years, South Londoner Katy B is the one most likely to be worrying about the “difficult second album” syndrome. A No.2 hit in the UK, her debut On A Mission was universally hailed as a generation-defining record thanks to its reflections on both London club life and issues relating to her late teens/early 20s peers, ensuring a huge wave of expectation for what she comes up with next.
Perhaps conscious of the fact she’s been notably absent over the past 18 months (barring a disappointingly underwhelming Olympics-themed collaboration with Mark Ronson), the 23-year-old has decided to whet the appetite for her much-anticipated sophomore with a free four-track E.P. entitled Danger.
If it’s a taste of things to come, then she should have few problems in replicating her initial wave of success. On paper, Jessie Ware collaboration “Aaliyah” sounds like a potential homage to the staccato R&B the late US diva perfected with Missy Elliot and Timbaland before her untimely death in 2001. In reality, it’s a sensual old-skool house number which, in an unusual tribute, positions the “Try Again” star as a rival for a DJ’s affections in an inspired take on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”
Katy B is just as seductive on the Diplo-assisted “Light As A Feather,” a playful fusion of filtered synths and electroclash beats, needlessly interrupted by a jarring ravey breakdown and a phoned-in rap from Australian MC Iggy Azalea. And whilst grime king Wiley is also guilty of the latter on the Thank-God-It’s-Friday anthem “Just Got Paid,” Zinc’s joyous bass-heavy production is more than enough compensation.
But it’s the Danger E.P.’s closing title track which perhaps provides the biggest indicator of where her new album is heading. A spacious twinkling electro-ballad, its downbeat melodies and introspective lyrics are reminiscent of the soul-searching R&B of Drake and The Weeknd, suggesting an assault on the US charts may be imminent this time around.
The fact that she’s given away Danger entirely for free proves just how confident Katy B is with her new material. If the new record is equally strong as these four tracks, then she has every right to be.