A step forwards from her debut...

Anne-Marie’s undoubted pop success – colossal singles as a solo artist, continually in-demand as a featured singer – is undeniable. Yet there’s always been a sense that she hasn’t quite bound these elements together into one place; 2018’s debut album ‘Speak Your Mind’ featured some fireworks, but also felt inconsistent. New album ‘Therapy’ pushes her story to its next chapter, and while it features some surging highs, it doesn’t quite dispel notions that Anne-Marie has yet to nail down a singular sound she can call her own.

‘Don’t Play’ is a furiously effect UKG bubbler, one that teams Anne-Marie up alongside YouTuber-turned-rapper KSI and Digital Farm Animals, a ruthlessly entertaining take on that ’99 2-step sound. ‘Unlovable’ matches the singer with old sparring partners Rudimental, and there’s undoubtedly a trace of magic in her delivery, the way it pirouettes on the production team’s array of club flavours.

Yet as entertaining as it is, ‘Therapy’ also loses its way slightly. At times wearing its influences on its sleeve – ‘Beautiful’ is a jaunty Tay Tay homage, and the title track sits in that trop-pop field – the record doesn’t quite manage to grapple with a defined identity of its own.

Latter album cuts such as ‘Tell Your Girlfriend’ lose their fizz, certainly in comparison to blockbuster Beyonce-echoing Little Mix team up ‘Kiss My (Uh Oh)’, a sly and subversive ode to the powers of womanhood. Neatly, the album’s entertaining contradictions solidify on ‘Who I Am’ – a carefully contoured pop roller, the vocal inflections seem to conjure comparisons to all manner of her peers, while also issuing a statement of defiance. Anne-Marie sings: “love me or hate me / nothing’s gonna change me…”

A coy, almost playground-like chant of opposition, Anne-Marie places herself above critical barbs. Perhaps she’s right – after all, that track record speaks for itself.

7/10

Words: Robin Murray

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