Mr Hudson ‘Straight No Chaser’ – Review

21 Oct

Mr Hudson and The Library’s debut album passed the world by without making any major impact. I remember really liking the cover, I remember listening to it once and being as impressed as I was repulsed by certain garish aspects of it. The level of musicianship was high, certain songs were catchy but the lyrics were cringe worthy at times and his singing voice was off putting if brilliantly English. I didn’t listen to it again.

So when I heard that Kanye West had adopted Mr Hudson as a protege, I was extremely surprised. This was more than random, it was absolutely bizarre. What did Kanye West see in this slightly out there, slightly old fashioned indie act from England? Obviously he saw something because Mr H has now become part of Kanye’s hip hop elite, working with the likes of Jay Z, Kid Cudi and Kanye himself. Now, at last, we can hear his much anticipated second album ‘Straight No Chaser’.

Obviously much has changed from last time round – most noticeably The Library have disappeared leaving Mr Hudson out front on his own – and this is very much a solo album. The natural sounds of the debut have also been replaced by more hip hop beats, vocoders and 80’s synths making this a much more contemporary album than ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’. It fits in quite snuggly with the more laid back trend of hip hop in the last two years heading in a similar direction to Kanye’s own ‘808 and Heartbreak’, with less satisfying results. Mr Hudson was going for a mass market pop album and for the most part he succeeds.

First single ‘Supernova’ is one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard all year, even if it doesn’t quite sound as epic as the title suggests it should. New single ‘White Lies’ is another very enjoyable pop song that may have you singing along, as will ‘Knew We Were Trouble’, easily the best thing on here. And when Mr Hudson gets the formula right, as he does on these songs, this can be a very enjoyable, very English modern pop album. unfortunately there are far too many moments when the formula goes stale, when he repeats himself such as on the title track or the insipid ‘Instant Mesanger’. All the songs sound essentially the same, which is a shame after the last album’s eclectic nature. The best songs are the ones Kanye had a direct role in, and Kid Cudi also brings some class to ‘Everything is Broken’; its moments like this when you think Mr Hudson is worthy of all the attention he has received.

‘Straight No Chaser’ is a very satisfactory and enjoyable pop record, featuring some brilliantly catchy songs. Mr Hudson combines some English wit and humour with very American beats to good effect. However It is very hit and miss and I’m not sure if many songs will stand repeat listens. You can guarantee that many of these songs will be played on the radio for months to come, so if you buy this album expecting familiar, fun songs you will have a good time – if you expect anything deeper, in the mould of his last record, you may be disappointed.

6/10

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