Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Take Me When You Go | Betty Who


★★★★☆

The blogosphere has been abuzz with news of Australian singer-songwriter Betty Who (born Jessica Newham) for a while now as she toured stateside to spread her name, but Betty's story is now reaching a new chapter as she releases her debut album, Take Me When You Go. This thirteen-track set comes after the release of two extended plays, a record deal with RCA Records, and appearances with YouTube stars such as Tyler Oakley.

As the album began to slowly leak on the web, Betty Who has been placed under the microscope of music fans and critics to find her similarities to other artists. Upon the cover, Betty channels the platinum blonde reincarnate of Lana Del Rey's former 1950s persona, while she sonically appears as a pop star plucked straight from the 1980s. Her voice and musical style has already drawn comparison to the likes of Katy Perry (who she will open for when Perry's Prismatic Tour hits Australia), but critics have failed to note the strength of her voice that exudes the confidence of Sia Furler and Marina Diamandis. Even with all of these influences under her belt, Betty still manages to move forward as her own, defining persona with Take Me When You Go.

Minus two earnest ballads (the subdued "California Love" and a track lead by the clicks of a drum-machine titled "Missing You"), Take Me When You Go is the perfected album packed with radio-ready pop anthems that Katy Perry (semi-successfully) tried to create last year. Betty's earliest single, "Somebody Loves You," combines 1980s pop with the best of today's pop scene and is still being plugged as the album's lead single despite first being released in 2012, While many artists have taken the 1980s shtick and thrown us completely back a few decades, with radiant songs like "Somebody Loves You," "Glory Days," and "Dreaming About You," Betty proves that she can simply complement the modern era of pop music with blast-from-the-past influences.

Throughout the album, Betty rattles through these songs with lyrics about love and relationships in her native Australian accent, which is refreshing to hear; most artists that cross into the United States adopt the accent as well. At her best, she dreams of an upper echelon status with her dream man in "High Society" as she sings, "We'll drink Chardonnay through the day, 'cause we say so / A silk lapel suits you well, baby you know / With you, each and every day, we'll be high society," and reminisces of young, bright-eyed love in "Runaways": "We sneak out late after midnight / Hijack your daddy's car / You're my best bad kind of habit / I'm your backseat movie star."

Betty Who pulled out all of the stops with Take Me When You Go to create an infectious, nostalgic set of songs. This year's pop debuts have come in all shapes and sizes this year and Betty just adds to the variety. While Tove Lo found her niche in electropop fogged in the smoky haze emitted from a joint and Foxes crafted a unique light pop sound that easily complements her alluring voice, Betty Who and her producers formed a cohesive album that would easily chameleon itself into a sea of other pop albums if it wasn't for the perfect amount of 1980s glimmers sprinkled across its tracks. With so many sing-along pop tracks, perhaps Betty should have extended the album name to Take Me When You Go (on a Long Road Trip and Need Good Music).

Take Me When You Go is out now under RCA Records.

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