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Album Review: Diana Vickers – Music To Make Boys Cry

Photo: Leo Cackett

It’s always astounding how much of a career an artist has in your mind’s eye before they even release their first single. What I’m saying is – looking back at Diana Vickers’ first X Factor audition, most will have already carved out a Damien Rice shaped career for her, plucking an acoustic guitar and using her wispy voice to mesmerise and/or bore you. Hidden within that young girl, however, was a starlet waiting to be unleashed. None of this acoustic album malarkey – she pulled out the beats and it didn’t half serve her well. Number one single and all, don’t you know. What I’d like to point out, to the delight of every homosexual male that frequents this blog, she has cranked up the Madonna levels higher than ever before. This is as far from an unplugged guitar as you can get.

Perhaps a victim of her own personality, the real qualm I have with ‘Music To Make Boys Cry’ is that it doesn’t have as much of Diana within it – at least not in comparison to it’s predecessor ‘Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree’ which reeked of Ms. Vickers’ own stamp. The cheeky quirks that make her such a treat of a popstar are only really present in the penultimate track ‘Better In French’ and in dribs and drabs throughout the album. It doesn’t diminish the merit of the material, as there are some big tunes here, but it does keep it in the peripheries of good and great, whilst her debut soared to the heights of brilliance.

One thing that ‘Music To Make Boys Cry’ has ironed out is cohesion. This record sounds focused and concise – it is short, cutting off after ten tracks, but every one has it’s place and the album doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. The prominence of Miranda Cooper in the writing department also keeps a familiar tone throughout the record, along with Vickers’ inimitable vocals ofcourse. Only one of the songs here sound as instant as the singles and that is the fan-favourite  ‘Boy In Paris’, a stampede of glorious synths that steers clear of dance-pop cliches and ensures it keeps within it’s electro field. If you’re a fan of the subtle, ‘Dead Heat’ has a gorgeous charm to it’s swooping backing vocals and ‘Smoke’ plays the ballad card perfectly.

‘Music To Make Boys Cry’ will sit alongside Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s later albums as a work of refined pop that never got the attention it deserved. Whilst the album might be lacking in a lot of departments, it is still a shame that it probably won’t achieve the success that songs like ‘Boy In Paris’ and ‘Cinderella’ deserve. Another important attribute Diana and Sophie have in common, though  is their devoted fanbase; whilst we enjoy the gems of the album, let’s all say a pop prayer that a third album happens and hope it is just as polished as this, with an extra layer of Diana mixed in. Then she really will be a contender for Kylie’s gay throne.

Photo: Leo Cackett
Words: Simon McMurdo

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