Everything about Becky Hill’s (somehow) debut album is injected with an urgency. An urgency to appear authentic and break the barrier between being the voice of endless club bangers and becoming an album artist who’s releases are eagerly waited on by waves of fans.
Somehow it’s been nine years since she burst onto the scene with The Voice, and it was 2014 when she became the only of its alumni to hit number one with Gecko (Overdrive). And since then she’s never looked back – hit after hit, and now she has one of the most recognisable voices in the country. So how come whenever I mention her name to someone listening to dance music, no one knows who she is? (even madder when you realise she has 17 million monthly listeners on Spotify)
There’s been a culture in dance music for too long of singers being either uncredited or discredited, and it feels like Becky Hill wants to be the one to change this. I absolutely adore all of her music, and I think it’s fantastic that someone in 2021’s music climate wants to release an album full of house anthems about more than just taking drugs and having a party. Never has a break-up sounded so cheerful as when Becky has put her magic touch on a song, and that just shows how brilliant a songwriter she is.
But it’s no wonder the urgency to be seen as authentic is so key here. Indeed, she posted at the start of this cycle that she wanted to be seen as an album artist, and this is obviously the first step to that. While her compilation album (honestly how many people can say they have a greatest hits before a debut album?) did feel like a splodging-together of singles, this feels more coherent and more like a traditional release. That doesn’t make it boring though – the singles simply exist to give you six bursts of sing-along fun while you listen to the other tracks.
‘Remember’ with David Guetta has been the biggest song from the album. Complete with a Dua-esque music video, this shows Becky dancing through her mixed-up feelings about a break-up. I can’t resist wailing along to ‘Last Time’ every time I hear it – it’s a piece of dance-pop perfection. ‘Better Off Without You’ really warmed up the cold nights of two winters ago when it came out, and yes, that’s so long ago that it feels nostalgic to listen to, which is crazy. ‘My Heart Goes (La Di Da)’ with Topic sees her venture into the slap house which has taken over the dance world over the past couple of years. If this had been released before Wednesday, this really could have helped raise the album’s profile a little higher, but it’s honestly brilliant – Becky’s voice somehow manages to raise it above other slap house tracks which all sound pretty monogamous. It takes a very strong vocalist to stand out in the most saturated genre of them all, and Becky is very, VERY strong.
Of the new tracks, pretty much nothing goes wrong. ‘Could Be My Somebody’ with S1mba is a bassline banger and is the centrepiece. I just want to stand up and start doing choreo for this. Could this be a sleeper hit on the charts? Maybe it’s a little too removed from the generic house which seems to dominate them right now, but it could also start a revolution…. Album opener ‘I Got You’ bursts you straight into the album with a very shiny, sleek production which sets the tone for the rest of the album. This is a raucous sing-along track for late nights and best friends, and again, could become a massive song. It’s actually refreshing to see an artist with so much optimism when it feels like everyone else is trying to out-misery each other.
‘Waiting Not Looking’ is a bouncy ballad, if one such thing exists. It takes inspiration from 90s dance, electronica and IDM to make a unique sound. ‘Distance’ is the heartbreaker, which feels like it was made for crying on a cold autumn morning. An early contender for the John Lewis Christmas advert? I certainly wouldn’t be opposed. As she has shown before with her beautiful rendition of ‘Only You’, she is not only great at the upbeat but the acoustic as well. Somehow, ‘Lessons’ with Banx & Ranx is song #12 – it feels like five minutes since I turned on. With 15 songs in 45 minutes, nothing sticks around too long to drop the tempo.
‘Heaven On My Mind’ is the one Becky song I feel like I completely underrate. I love Sigala as well, so it makes absolutely no sense – how have I slept on it so long? I’m now more determined than ever before to appreciate it. The final track, ‘Through The Night’ with 220 KID, is a beautiful ending to this album.
It still feels mad to call this a debut album, but this is one of the best you’ll hear if you’re into your club music. If you want a fun party with deep thoughts, this is perfect. Becky really bares her soul here, and shows how incredible she really is as a songwriter. If she wants to make a few more albums as banging as this one, I’m here for it!
Ryan’s Rating: 9/10