Laura Bettinson, born in England, coined the stage name FEMME in 2013 after performing in night clubs and small venues; and less than a year later she got picked up by Perez Hilton. In a routine wave to find new, interesting artists for his mixtape albums Perez Hilton Presents Pop Up!, he came across the video for 'Fever Boy' and she took off. Releasing six singles paired with six respective videos in the span of just over a year, FEMME was simultaneously working on her debut album - and thus Debutante was born. Only three of these already released, familiar tracks are seen on her upcoming album, which makes it even more fresh - although devoted fans may have tracked down deleted SoundCloud tracks and live versions of many of the other songs on the project.
The Debutante experience explores a very 80s sound. It's something you'd expect to play in a cheesy remake of some old movie where a lovestruck girl sneaks away with a grimy boy during prom to make out under the bleachers. I say this in the best way possible. It's very back and forth but somehow manages to stay cohesive. FEMME's team describes the album as pop, but it sounds more like experimental punk with pop influences, with features of hard drums, guitars, and shimmering synths throughout many of its tracks.
Following a mostly instrumental fifty second introduction called 'Your Poptarts Are Ready', the record opens with the already released promotional single 'Fever Boy'. With lazy vocals and difficult to follow lyrics, it wasn't the best choice for an album opener, following a fifty second climactic intro. You think you're getting something explosive, but once a familiar kick drum beat comes in, you're kind of let down. It would definitely turn some people off. But by the same token, the song on it's own isn't too bad - just not a highlight track, and not a good (technically) first track, either.
Track six is the first official single 'Light Me Up', which was released on February 4th. This song gives a much better idea of what the album sounds like - a glittery and clean production with distorted vocals, interesting lyrics and a big shimmering chorus. "Tell me it's gonna get easier, don't let me take each step on my own. But if I'm coming home to you, you gotta just light me up,” FEMME sings over an 8-bit esque production. For sure one of the highlight tracks on Debutante, and a great choice for the lead single.
One of the other highlights of the album is 'Double Trouble'. Already released, the song showcases FEMME's ability to produce a catchy melody. It seems like she has mastered the perfect pop recipe. A change from the buzzing drums seen on the previous tracks, and the closest thing you get to a ballad on this record. The strings-based and touching 'Calling All Stars' comes close as well, but due to it's short duration of only a minute and fifteen seconds, we don't really see it as a true album track.
'Dumb Blonde' is one of those rare percussion-based slow-tempos, backed by the contrast of some video game type sound effects and a morbid cello synth. "You treat me like a right dumb blonde, but I'm gonna show you how it's gonna be done," FEMME croons in an experimental spoken-sung style that Goldfrapp or Uffie would no doubt place their stamp of approval on.
My personal favourite is the last track, titled 'Sirens'. It explores a sort of Bollywood Hawaii hip-hop sound. “Sirens sound ‘cuz I think you found me,” she sighs over the track. Based on where we see this in the albums tracklisting, it could hint at the next ones direction. But given how much of a perfectionist FEMME seems to be, I wouldn't get your hopes up for that one too soon.
Debutante is out April 15th.