Betty Who's life story in itself is quite incredible. Spending her early life in Sydney, Australia, Who moved to the US at age fourteen to begin studying music professionally, before attending the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Long before Meghan Trainor blew up with 'All About That Bass', Who was making headlines with her fun, vintage-pop anthem 'Somebody Loves You' while subtly challenging the pop status quo as a tall, broad-shouldered and bleached blonde Amazon who was classically trained and penned her own songs. (You hear that Meghan? Subtle.)
Which is why we're super happy that Take Me When You Go, Who's first album, has finally been released, instead of being doomed to eternal purgatory in RCA's basement, alongside all those Kelly Clarkson and Britney Spears demos we never got to hear. Thankfully, the album doesn't disappoint.
Who's impressive vocals and distinctive, dayglow, vintage productions take centre stage here (If you haven't heard any of her songs yet, think Instagram in vocal form) as she breezes her way through a super-pop landscape, complete with self-penned lyrics about "convertible nights for two", "living in a heartbreak dream" and being a "backseat movie star". She slows the tempo down a little for some more chilled out tracks, such as 'Just Like Me' and drive-in-movie theater anthem 'A Night To Remember'; and elsewhere, she tackles indie R&B with 'Better', which plays through like a less intense version of Lorde but is cleverly offset by a 'I Knew You Were Trouble' style refrain of "never". 'Missing You' is a voyage into experimental beats and echos, while 'California Rain' is a homesick ballad: but luckily, all the songs sound coherent and similarly themed, with constant references to dreams, cars and California peppering the lyrics. It's clear that Who has opted to work with a core team of trusted producers on a unique, distinctive sound, rather than jumping on the newest bandwagon for a #1 hit.
One of the only problems with the album is it's rather unconventional style of release. Who's label has opted to release four different EP's prior to the album's release in the US - The Movement, Slow Dancing, Worlds Apart, and the soon to be released Convertible Nights - which means that we've already heard a lot of the album's material. In fact, 'Somebody Loves You', which was released way back in 2012, has been so overplayed by us at this point that it's sounding a little overdone and outdated. Moreover, there's also a few songs from her EP's, such as the supremely underrated pop anthem 'You're In Love', or the haunting 'Silas', which are definitely worth a listen but don't feature here.
Luckily, other tracks such as the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills ode 'High Society' remain as fresh and fun as when we first heard them; and more recent singles - like 'Runaways', which sounds like a happy Lana Del Rey on ecstasy - haven't lost their staying power quite yet. 'Alone Again' remains a jam, with Boo's cooing to "come a little closer" and a pretty nifty guitar solo seducing the listener into enjoyment.
Despite Who's impressive debut, however, we can't help but feel that her peak is yet to come. With recent songs, she's been breaking away from her standard synth-pop style to experiment with different instruments and sounds, such as electric guitars, 808's and piano's - and this is a trend we'd love to see continue. With talent like Who's, the possibilities for genre and success are almost limitless: which is why, as entertaining as Take Me When You Go is, there's the feeling that the best is yet to come for the twenty-two year old Australian who could.
- The album has a cohesive, unique sound and theme, and Who's distinctive lyrics, voice and production are able to shine through at the forefront.
- Who is still at the top of the class when it comes to creating fun, care-free pop hits.
- The experimentation with different genres pays off well, and is something we'd love to see more of.
- We've already heard a lot of the songs, such as 'Somebody Loves You' which we've had for two years.
- We're missing a few of our favourite songs from past EP's.