Whether you’re an avid supporter of The X Factor and its ilk or you’re sceptical of their practices, there’s no denying that they’ve discovered some talented vocalists in the past. Some amazingly talented artists and groups have launched profitable careers through The X Factor UK, most notably Leona Lewis. Whether series 11’s runner up Fleur East will personally stand the test of time remains to be seen, but if Love, Sax and Flashbacks is any indication, then she’s got an amazingly bright future ahead of her.
East has made it blatantly clear that Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk is a major inspiration for her, and it’s plain to see across Love, Sax and Flashbacks. From Baby Don’t Dance and Like That to the lead single Sax, they all follow a similar funk style, not quite as old school in style but throwing a modern pop sheen on top to balance it out. Sax shows the best use of this influence, with its soulful bridge and brass-covered instrumental chorus—which notably features trumpets instead of saxophone, but still gets the point across—adding up for an explosive single and introductory track for the album.
In truth, however, these funk tracks tend to be the worst that Love, Sax and Flashbacks has to offer. The remainder of the album incorporates the funk direction with a few distinct pop styles, which are almost always successful experiments. The sunny synthpop of More and More, the breakbeat alternative funk of Love Me or Leave Me Alone and the string-heavy dance number Over Getting Over are some of the album’s strongest tracks. The disco energy of Paris takes the cake, however, with its sexually charged lyrics, understated beats and specific usage of strings standing out as the album’s most memorable moment. While some songs in the latter half of the album do feel somewhat less exciting in comparison, they all stand strong based on their own merits.
While there may be a few derivative funk tracks or unnecessary X Factor covers on the album, the remainder of the material on Love, Sax and Flashbacks is truly impressive. The choice to stick with a funk sound and simultaneously explore the genre’s diversity give the album a fresh sound, and whether she’s singing or rapping, East sounds perfectly at home on every single track. Fleur East has started on a stunning high note, but with some refining and experimentation she could potentially give us something even better next time.