Katy B’s last record, 2014’s Little Red was sleek, club-ready pop, bolstered by British hits like “Crying For No Reason.” However, on her latest LP, Honey, Katy B settles on smooth and psychedelic electronic music that rarely goes for the jugular.
The UK pop starlet’s new record features collaborations with 21 artists, but Katy B remains the star of the show. With her two preceding albums only featuring three collaborations, Katy B shows that she has the confidence to work with other artists without the fear of being overshadowed.
From start to finish, Honey is startlingly consistent, displaying lustrous and well constructed EDM. Opening up with the eponymous title track “Honey,” Katy B sets up the themes of the record as a whole, relying heavily on midtempos while trying to work in sexual innuendos. But the song’s lyrics, such as “Darling just lean in / I am sure you’ll want to taste this honey on my skin,” ultimately fall flat.
Though the tracks continue on slowly, with most clocking in at an exhausting four minutes, each one offers a new sound: pop, EDM, R&B and rap all find a place on the album. Ultimately, each track features a collaboration with one or multiple new artists, who each bring their own influences. From wobbling synths on the opener, to sharp, accelerated drums on standout track “So Far Away,” the songs manage to keep the listener’s attention throughout.
The nearly two dozen collaborations make each track and production sound fresh, without becoming gimmicky. The bubbling, staccato synths on the Floating Points and Four Tet’s assisted “Calm Down” are unlike those on the rest of the record but shine in their simplicity. “Water Rising,” featuring MssingNo and Geenus, is dark and dramatic, a great example of the versatility that can be found on “Honey.” The only questionable contributions appear on track five, the rap/sung collaboration “Lose Your Head.” With three rappers — The Heavytrackerz, J Hus and D Double E — delivering sloppy and annoying verses, the song should crash and burn. However, Katy B’s confidence in the hook and an inoffensive production manage to save the sinking ship.
While each track’s production thrives off of the adrenaline fueled percussion, Katy B’s vocal delivery often doesn’t capture that same energy. Katy B isn’t a poor singer by any means, she simply avoids utilizing her full vocal potential track after track. Too frequently, she sounds lifeless and lethargic, lingering in her middle voice when her underutilized belts would be appreciated. For example, on the UK No.1, the KDA-assisted “Turn the Music Louder (Rumble),” she propels the fireball chorus by moving into her upper register. In the bridge, she unleashes riffs and growls that could blow plenty of her contemporaries out of the water. However, this is one of the rare instances in which she chooses to show all that she is capable of. For most of the album, she sells herself and her voice short.
As a B-List pop star five years into her career, Katy B hasn’t been able to achieve the success her fellow UK acts Ellie Goulding or Jessie J have during the same timespan. Though Honey isn’t the breakthrough record that will make her career, in sparse moments such as “Rumble” and “I Wanna Be,” the album shows that Katy B has the potential to become a much more formidable artist if she chooses to harness her full potential.
Artist: Katy B
- Genre: Electronic, Pop, EDM
- Tracks: 13
- Rating: 7.5/10