Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Anything to cover up

Back when the idea of Xenomania Records still seemed like the most exciting prospect in pop--before all the interesting artists we heard about had disappeared into the mists of potential popstars lost in "development," disappointing songs, or terminated record deals--American singer Jessie Malakouti teased us with at least two fantastic songs, the straight-up pop-dance of "Standing Up For The Lonely" and the slightly more melancholic "Who's That Man."

Jessie's time with Xenomania wasn't her first appearance in the music world. She'd earlier been a member of the pop-rock-hip hop girl group Shut Up Stella and shared songs like "If U Seek Amy" predecessor "Trash Me" (written by the Larsson/Franson/Lundgren Örebro gang) on her MySpace. Still, it wasn't until the Xenomania polish that she really started to--well, not quite shine yet, but show hints of shimmer.

Unfortunately, her proper debut single "Standing Up For The Lonely" was never released and she and the British songwriting collective parted ways. I expected a quick drop-off in song caliber, but if anything, her latest project has the highest quality rate yet. As the only real person in Jessie and the Toy Boys--she's backed up by several mannequins--Jessie seems to be finally hitting her stride with an attitude-prone electro-pop sound.

Perfect Shade Of Red by poppostergirl

I've written about "Hitman" and its addictive chorus before. The triumphant "Key To The City" is even better, perhaps her best song yet, while "Like You Better" and "The Radio's Talking To Me" both have their own cheeky charm.

"Perfect Shade Of Red" certainly belongs in the top two or three songs from this Jessie era. Finding a middle ground between the spikier, spunkier sound of the Toy Boys and the pretty mid-tempo longing of "Who's That Man," "Perfect Shade Of Red" is pretty much all I want out of pop at this point in time. Its well-written earworm of a chorus is supported by equally strong verses and a perfectly balanced mix of synth stabs and washes, with Jessie holding the whole thing together with popstar presence. If some of Jessie's other songs have seemed too try-hard youthful for you, "Perfect Shade Of Red" might be the song to win you over.

Jessie and the Toy Boys are off to a running start. Let's just hope this particular Jessie Malakouti project makes it further than Shut Up Stella, her first solo attempt, or her second Xenomania-backed try.

There are currently no Jessie and the Toy Boys songs available to purchase, but I believe "Push It" to be on sale soon. In the meantime, you can buy several of Jessie's older songs on iTunes.

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