Fleur East travels through decades on high energy debut
X Factor has been playing an important role in Fleur East’s career for years. In 2005 she tried to take her career further than being a session singer, by participating in the British X Factor as part of a girl group that was axed early in the competition. After years of hard work she came back fighting in 2014 and made it to the second place in the final of the talent show, mostly thanks to her take on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’. The influence of this widely applauded cover was hearable on her first single ‘Sax’, which she presented with a dazzling show on that very same stage. The fun and energetic single with some raps and a retro twist made its way to the top of the UK charts. The perfect moment to release debut album Love, Sax and Flashbacks.
Although the title basically sounds like ‘That hit Sax, some rehashes and a few covers’, I can gladly confirm that Fleur’s debut album is more than that. Of course there are some tracks here that try to recreate the magic of ‘Sax’ (and therefore ‘Uptown Funk’), like ‘Goldwatch’ and ‘Baby Don’t Dance’, while the last one has quite a few similarities with Ariana Grande’s horns dominated ‘Problem’ and ‘Focus’ as well. Although these are not bad tracks, you get the feeling you have heard it all before in better versions. On the rest of the album, East borrows elements from the past few decades in music and tries to make it her own.
On ‘Love Me Or Leave Me Alone’ she dives into funk and blues and the instrumentation even sounds a bit like a Prince track. She adds some rap in the bridge with the quite brilliant line ‘Imma leave your ass quicker than a snapchat’. These references to today’s social media packaged in old school retro tunes come back more often on Love, Sax and Flashbacks. We travel through the late 80s and early 90s with the tracks ‘Never Say When’ and ‘More and More’ that sound like an ode to the heydays of Whitney Houston’s career. We also visit the 00’s with ‘Like That’, that definitely borrowed some elements from Amerie’s sound on her worldwide hit ‘1 Thing’.
For the next single East has two great options. The first is ‘Breakfast’, one of the most contemporary sounding tracks, that could have been one of the highlights of Carly Rae Jepsen’s record as well. It’s breezy pop with a great production and Fleur East’s sassy delivery. She sounds powerful and energetic on ‘Over Getting Over’, a smart cross over between 70s disco and today’s beats. This is exactly the thing she should be doing and with quoting internet sensation Sweet Brown’s legendary ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’ you can’t really go wrong, right!? Things do go wrong on ‘Kitchen’ however with the ‘can’t take the heat, you better get out of the kitchen’ chorus that doesn’t nearly sound as sharp or sassy as it should have. The ‘Tina Turnitup’ part in the middle eight is even more cringy. Together with including the covers of ‘Uptown Funk’ and Alicia Keys’ ‘Girl On Fire’, this however is the only big misstep on the record. Love, Sax and Flashbacks is not original in the slightest, but it’s a fast paced, highly energetic introduction to the pop star Fleur East. The question however is how long she can keep the ‘Sax’ hype up and what will happens next for her.