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You've got to hand it to DOLLS. Her previous project, The Royal Society, achieved moderate in North America after being signed to Warner Brothers; it's the kind of lifestyle that lends itself to supporting artists like Flo Rida. With a personal taste for a less commercial sound, she's returned to the UK, parted company with Warner's and relaunched herself as DOLLS with this album, 'Secret Sulk'. There's still a definite radio-friendly aspect to these songs; she knows what she's good at and uses it to full effect. This however, won't stop the album from dividing opinion. It's not a case of it being good or bad: it's good. It's more a case of personal taste.
The tempo may change, the songs may all be complete and well made, but the style is pure electro-pop from start to finish. Most people with varying music tastes could listen to a track from this record and enjoy it, but over the course of eleven songs it will become a bit much. The upshot of all this is that of you enjoy electro-pop, especially that which is accessible but not overtly commercial, you could end up loving 'Secret Sulk'. For the casual fan it may be (marginally) more experimental songs such as 'PayMate' or the Moroder-ish 'Better Half' that will resonate the most, and the rest you could probably take or leave.
As a whole though, 'Secret Sulk' is very consistent; be it the more uptempo tunes like the dark 'Erase You' or the pulsing 'Now Now' that will keep your energy levels high, or the slower, more mysterious songs such as 'Pretty (We Don't Pay You)' or 'Chromance'. It's a good move for DOLLS to have taken control of her music and the album she's made. Although it's a common genre, it's well written and well produced, not to mention having just enough of an experimental bent to hint at different future paths. 'Secret Sulk' feels like an album by an artist finding her feet and doing so successfully. It's also left the door open for her to take a variety of different routes for future releases.
Stream or download the album for free at DOLLS' website
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