In a that touched on the role of albums in the streaming era, the former head of Virgin EMI described them as an “artist appeasement tool”. It’s a crude way to look at the artform, but in the case of Becky Hill it might be apt. Hill has four Top 10 hits, has released 26 singles in seven years and last year was the second most listened to British female artist on Spotify in the UK, yet she’s only just releasing her debut album. At this stage, why bother?
Hill is, after all, the definition of a singles artist. Known for her pop songwriting, and dance-pop collaborations with David Guetta, Sigala and Shift K3y to name just a few –, with Guetta, will surely notch a sixth week in the UK Top 10 today – she’s always struggled to carve an identity as an artist in her own right. This album is unlikely to change that. As well as filling floors, its 15 tracks are seemingly designed for fast-fashion adverts during Love Island, with over-stuffed production that’s about as robust and long-lasting as the minidresses sold therein.
Hill does have a rich, lightly husky voice that’s almost able to inject soul into something lifeless, and there are also some vaguely interesting songs: Waiting Not Looking’s undulating, subterranean synths and light drum’n’bass beats add a little weirdness; the climbing melodies of midtempo stomper I Got You demonstrate Hill’s ability to write good top lines; the watery chords and garage shuffle of Could Be My Somebody are a welcome throwback. But these are short respites from the conveyer belt of blandness. Perhaps after waiting nearly a decade to be allowed to release an album, Hill’s enthusiasm had just run dry.