After releasing three very solid singles and making Canadian pop music lovers wait for what seems like an eternity, British Columbia’s own Victoria Duffield released her new album/EP: “Shut Up and Dance” with Warner Music Canada on August 21st, 2012!
While I would honestly hesitate to call any release that boasts only 8 tracks an “album,” as an EP, “Shut Up and Dance” displays a lot of potential from the 17 year old pop starlet and Duffield displays the dancing prowess and delightfully listenable vocals of Britney Spears circa 1999 (as in “Baby One More Time.“) Much like Spears’ debut, “Shut Up…” has hits and misses, but one can’t reasonably expect someone to have their sound perfected at the tender age of 17, even if presently her sound can be defined as distinctly POP – as in bubblegum. Before you make a flash judgement about my intentions in using this description, I would like to add that as far as the Pop Gods are concerned, there is absolutely nothing wrong with bubblegum!
The set opens with the first single and title track: “Shut Up and Dance,” which is sugary, dance-pop perfection. In the first of three seemingly-deliberate track placements, Duffield’s first lines on the album are “Here we are, right back at the start” as she sings to her ex that she doesn’t want to hear apologies for the past (at least not tonight.) She just wants him to take a cue from the song’s title. In the song’s bridge, she assures that she knows he never really meant to break her heart. This segues nicely into current (and third) single “Break My Heart,” which sounds very similar in overall production elements to the previous, but not enough to be monotonous.
While not the best of the (yet) non-single tracks, the most obvious future single release is track #3: “They Don’t Know About Us,” a mid-tempo pop duet which features an appearance by Australian tween heartthrob: Cody Simpson. Unfortunately, this one falls to the lower-middle of the pack for me despite the guest spot. Its melody and chord progression is far too reminiscent of “Kiss it Bye Bye“ by Alessia. (On a third listen, it does seem to be getting more infectious, however!)
Things pick back up with “Save Me,” which continues the euro-infused, dance-pop formula used in the album’s opening two but sounds like it could definitely work as a single (and in my opinion, is one of the better options as one.) “Sweet Fantasy” changes things up a bit and gets a little flirty with a certain 1990’s flare. It’s a refreshing change of pace, but overall feels like a nice bit of album filler – not likely to be a single but it shows a different side of Victoria and it’s not-at-all bad.
The albums strongest track, is second single: “Feel” which emerges as such because it’s the most mature track on the album and has the most lyrical and melodic allure. A club song through and through, despite it’s only reaching a peak of 37 on the Canadian singles chart, THIS is the song that shows the most promise as Victoria develops her sound for her eventual sophomore release, which – if history repeats itself – will be more mature and womanly and hopefully have her blowing-the-f**k-up all over Canada and internationally.
Rounding out the album is the obligatory down(ish)-tempo stuff. We start with “Baby Come Home” which is a mid-tempo pop radio jam about counting the days until you and your love are reunited. It’s very sweet and definitely could be a hit single if pop balladry soon makes a comeback. (On a side note: we pray to the Pop Gods that it does! We DO love slow jams!) Last on the set is the appropriately-titled “Final Warning,” which adds a bit of a pulsating beat but stays in a sweetly melancholy space as Duffield sings to the object of her affection that she’s probably just going to hurt him in the end. Another really pretty, could-be single that probably wouldn’t be on the label’s radar and for the record, the final words Duffield sings on the album are in fact, “Final Warning.” (This really can’t be mere coincidence.)
Now it’s time for the verdict! Let’s see how “Shut Up and Dance” fared at the glittery gates of Pop Heaven….
The Verdict: Propelled mainly by the strength of it’s three singles but still showing lots of promise otherwise, “Shut Up and Dance” isn’t revolutionary, game-changing pop music but it’s a solid effort from a VERY bright, Canadian prospect. Personally, I would have enjoyed at least one ACTUAL slow song, as even the most down tempo tracks were beat-driven, but when the scorecard was tallied and the Pop Gods deliberated, Victoria Duffield’s latest offering is…
Check out an album sampler AND the first three singles/music videos via the YouTube playlst below:
You can also preview the album in it’s entirety on MuchMusic First Spin!
Get “Shut Up and Dance” on iTunes!! (Canada Only. Sorry folks! I will be happy to update this with American links once they become available!)