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Mpho – Pop Art (Parlaphone/Wall Of Sound)

December 7, 2009

Did this album come out yet? Why is it not out?

I have a very good friend called James who is unashamed in his love of pop music. Because I don’t have enough mates who like or admit to liking some of the juicy and perfectly produced fluff that runs its way up and down the charts, I cherish our little get-togethers.

The last time we met up for a beer on a sunny day, we spent a good couple of hours agonizing over what we thought were the best Britney, Madonna, Kylie and Christina tunes. And the time before that, I ended up in his room strutting around with a paper lampshade on my head to ‘Womanizer’. Don’t ask.

And so now I can’t wait to get his expert opinion on Mpho, to let his impeccable pop ears wrap themselves around this plastic-fantastic album.

Personally I want to get out a glittery drinking straw, bend it around my ear like a microphone and lip-sync to ‘All Change’ with it’s train-speak as a metaphor for taking hold of a relationship. Or ‘Fix Ya Face’ that has a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde interchange between patois chat and angel voiced singsong that although it reminds me of Mis-Teeq, doesn’t make me jump out of my skin as much.

When Mpho Skeef first came to my attention a couple of years back, I thought we were waiting for her to step out from behind the mic stands reserved for background singers and drop some neo-soul on us. And so it seems, did most record execs – much to Mpho’s dismay.

But with the skill of a thousand Houdini’s, the locks have been firmly broken off that box. And let’s be grateful, because I think the glory days of neo-soul are firmly stuck at the start of this decade and no amounts of green tea or incense are going to bring them back.

Instead Mpho’s referencing 90s one-hitters Babylon Zoo on ‘S.P.A.C.E. Man’, squeezing an easy dance-off between reggae and house out of ‘Last Supper’ or creating the perfect psychotic electro on ‘Paranoid Type’. The tracks are so hot, they better keep them away from that five album deal contract that Mpho’s just signed with Parlaphone or it’ll be burnt to a crisp.

[Originally reviewed for PUB.lication]

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